Thursday, June 24, 2010
Oil sticks around beaches after the clean-up crews leave
Expect oil to continue washing ashore on Florida's beaches between Escambia and Walton counties, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said Thursday.
The state was expected to mobilize heavy equipment Thursday to clean up the beaches. But research by the University of South Florida suggests that such efforts can't clean up all of the oil. Only tar balls had washed ashore in northwest Florida prior to Wednesday when oil "mousse" washed ashore at Pensacola Beach. More could wash ashore there along with more tar balls east into Walton County, Sole told state emergency workers on Thursday.
"We need to get out there aggressively addressing it," Sole said. "It's been a big couple of days. Sadly I expect a couple more."
Sole has stated that he wants no visible oil in the environment, Michael Barnett, bureau chief of DEP's Bureau of Beaches and Coastal Systems, told the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition Conference in Tallahassee last week. "I don't know how that will play out," Barnett said. "I don't know if Mike (Sole) does either."
USF geologist Ping Wang found that oil still lingers on beaches even after it appears to have been removed by cleanup workers, according to a university news release. Wang was spending Thursday at Pensacola Beach collecting samples and documenting oil contamination.
Earlier this month, he visited the beach after tar balls were removed. His research team found small tar balls on the surface and larger tar balls buried by sand. "When the massive landfall happens, it won't be so easy to clean up," he said.
Wang's report can be downloaded by clicking here.
Advisories against swimming remained at some beaches in Escambia and Walton counties. See advisories listed at http://www.myfloridaeh.com/BEACHnames.html.
(Pensacola Beach photo by Regina Hare. Story provided by The Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting email@example.com.)