Chevron oil company officials have converged on Tampa Bay prepared for a tornado to hit one of their storage tanks sometime today.
Although tornadoes caused destruction in Pinellas County on Saturday, the bad weather Chevron officials are anticipating is not real, but part of a simulation today and Wednesday to test the company's emergency response procedures.
Chevron's scenario is that a tornado will hit an 80,000-barrel jet-fuel tank at the Chevron terminal at Port Tampa and spill fuel into Tampa Bay. The group, working with state, federal and local agencies, will attempt to control the spill.
Sheila Taylor, who will head the command post at the Hyatt Regency on the Courtney Campbell Parkway, said this is the company's second major drill this year. She said Tampa Bay was chosen because of the potential environmental damage of an oil spill there.
"Frankly," Taylor said, "if we have a spill here, it is very sensitive because it (oil) goes directly into Tampa Bay, which is very environmentally sensitive."
Taylor said no activity will take place in the water because of the damage cleanup equipment could do to the bay.
Chevron officials will be working with the Florida Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal, state and local emergency service agencies, Taylor said.
Taylor said the chance of such a disaster happening is "extremely low."
But not impossible.
"With the hurricane and the tornado that we've had here in addition to the possibility of human error, it doesn't hurt to be prepared," Taylor said. "We frankly don't expect it to happen, but the whole idea of a drill is to be prepared in case the unexpected does happen."