"Experts: US Ill-Prepared for Oil Spill Off Cuba"

"MIAMI -- The U.S. is not ready to handle an oil spill if drilling off the Cuban coast goes awry but can be better prepared with monitoring systems and other basic steps, experts told government officials Monday."

"The comments at a congressional subcommittee hearing in the Miami Beach suburb of Sunny Isles come more than a week after a huge oil rig arrived in Cuban waters to begin drilling a deepwater exploratory well.

Similar development is expected off the Bahamas next year, but decades of tense relations between the U.S. and Cuba makes cooperation in protecting the Florida Straits particularly tricky. With memories of the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico still fresh, state and federal officials fear even the perception of oil flowing toward Florida beaches could devastate an economy that claims about $57 billion from tourism.

Florida International University Professor John Proni told officials to be proactive. He is leading a consortium of researchers on U.S. readiness to handle a spill."

Laura Wides-Munoz reports for the Associated Press January 30, 2012.

Source: AP, 02/01/2012