Oil Slick Hits Pensacola

Posted on June 7, 2010

Tar balls and clumps of tar were reported to be washing up on white-sand beaches around Pensacola last week and now come reports that some small specks of oil have been seen as far west as Fort Walton, Beach.

However, based on Wall Street Journal article, Pensacola Beach has been hardest hit with a sheen of oil reported about one to seven miles off shore as of Saturday, June 5. Volunteers are roaming the coast with good intentions and gloves and garbage bags trying to gather what they can of the oil. Escambia County has about 36 miles of beach along the coast and more oil is expected over the next three days, according to the Florida Deepwater Horizon Response team, which is located in Tallahassee.

Even singer Jimmy Buffet was in Pensacola Beach Saturday. He plans to open a 162-room Margaritaville Hotel in a week. The plans are still a go, he said Saturday.

A commissioner for Escambia County, which includes Pensacola Beach call BP’s promise to spare no effort in helping his area deal with the oil spill “absolutely false.” Gene Valentino said the BP cleanup effort so far is inadequate, though the company is training volunteers and local residents in cleanup.

Escambia County is seeking reimbursement for the $3 million it’s spent on cleanup so far from a $25 million fund set up by BP, a woefully inadequate amount before we see the light of day through the crude oil polluting the Gulf.

On Sunday, June 6, Escambia County officials said they want BP to step aside and let the county deal with its own cleanup. Two protests took place in Pensacola Sunday against BP including vigil for the 11 workers who lost their lives when the Deepwater rig exploded April 20.

Recent satellite imagery shows a narrow bank of oil within the Loop Current which is current that could carry oil around the southern part of the state and up the east coast of Florida.

As of last Wednesday, the oil had washed up on 140 miles of Louisiana shore.

The timing for Florida couldn’t be worse as this is the beginning of the tourist season just as school is letting out. It is unclear at this time just how severe oil spill economic loss in Florida will be.

And to add fuel to the fire of resentment toward oil companies and the president, federal regulators on Wednesday June 2, approved a new Gulf of Mexico oil well, the first since the president lifted a ban on drilling in shallow water while extending the ban on well deeper than 500 feet of water.

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