Scattered tar balls continued to wash up along the Florida Panhandle coast on Monday but federal and state officials said there appeared to be much less oil in Gulf waters from the formerly spewing BP oil well.
The well off the Louisiana coast has remained capped since July 15 after gushing since an explosion and fire on April 20. State officials on Monday reported widely scattered tar balls in the western Florida Panhandle. Beaches in Escambia and Walton counties remained under health advisories against swimming.
An effort to partially kill the capped well, called "static kill," could begin as soon as Monday said retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the national incident commander. The well could be killed from beneath the sea floor beginning on Aug. 7, he said. Oil could remain a threat along the Gulf coast another four to six weeks though oil could occasionally wash up for months beyond that, Allen said.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Sole said he flew over the Panhandle on Monday but didn't see any oil in Florida waters. Widespread effects of oil are not expected for the remainder of the week, Sole said.
After oil boom was removed from the coast last week in advance of Tropical Storm Bonnie. Sole said the state will be working with counties to determine how much should be returned to those waters. "The good news is we have amassed a lot of resources in this state to be ready," Sole said. "Those resources will stay for Florida -- they don't go away. Deciding whether or not to splash a lot of boom in the water is a key issue."
Meanwhile, the Governor's Office on Monday released an agenda for Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force meeting on Wednesday in Destin. Independent BP claims administrator Ken Feinberg is scheduled to address the task force at 10 a.m.
Click here to download a copy of the task force agenda.
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