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Florida wary of Cuba's oil plans

  |   June 2, 2011 at 8:46 AM
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla., June 2 (UPI) -- Cuban plans to drill five deep-water oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico pose a major threat to the Florida environment, an advocacy group claims.

Cuba has plans to explore for oil off its coast in the Gulf of Mexico this year. Environmental groups say they are concerned about the impact of offshore drilling in deep waters more than a year after the BP oil disaster off the Louisiana coast.

Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, said the Florida coast is at risk because of the Cuban exploration plans.

"Florida's coastal environment and our many natural resource-based jobs are extremely vulnerable to oil spills," he said in a statement. "A major spill in Cuba's northern waters would quickly appear on Florida's beaches and shores, wreaking havoc on fishing, tourism and our entire coastal economy."

NWF researchers claim drilling 1 mile below the surface of the water safely is beyond technological capabilities.

The non-profit Marine Well Containment Co. set up in the wake of last year's spill has an interim response system that can operate in water depths of 8,000 feet and could contain as much as 60,000 barrels of fluid per day in the event of a spill.

The advocacy group said the Cuban wells would be in waters ranging from 1,300 to 4,900 feet deep.

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