BP Disaster

Beach Resident reacts to Health Department’s Advisory

June 26, 2010

It was distressing to read the article on the front page of the Pensacola News Journal today in which it was reported that John Lanza lifted the health advisory for Pensacola Beach. John Lanza is the Director of the Escambia County Health Department which is charged with protecting the health and safety of the citizens of this county.

In today’s paper, he states that he lifted the health advisory early Friday AGAINST the advice of officials at the EPA . He made his decision based on the advice of Buck Lee, Director of the SRIA. Does Mr. Lee have a scientific background on which to base such a recommendation? Mr. Lee says he made his recommendation based on a VISUAL inspection. He dismissed any notion that the water is unsafe and that he can’t wait three days for the results of testing to decide to close or open the beach to swimming. Surely both Mr. Lee and Mr. Lanza are aware that on Friday morning, two days after oil washed ashore, massive sheets of oil remained buried in the sand. Researchers from the University of South Florida found that the oil is buried from 1 to 8 inches deep.

Mr. Lanza admits that the health department did NO sampling of sand or water before lifting the health advisory. On the Escambia County website for this disaster response, readers are advised NOT to touch tar balls or oiled debris. From the beginning of this oil spill, residents of the beach have been warned against cleaning their own property due to the hazardous nature of the oil.

If the public is currently being warned not to come in contact with the tar and oil that is now on our beaches, why is it now acceptable to allow children and adults to dig in the sand and swim in the water ? Our Health Director is sending mixed signals. The revenue needs of our beach businesses are understandable, but Mr. Lanza’s primary concern should be the health and safety of the visitors and residents of this island. Unless Mr. Lee has qualifications of which we are unaware, he has no business making recommendations on health and safety, and Mr. Lanza has no business accepting them without scientific verification.

Beverly Pica

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  • chris June 27, 2010 at 8:45 am

    What a joke! Obviously they haven’t wandered into the surf this morning. There is an obvious sheen on top of the water. The waves don’t even look normal due to the covering of oil.

  • Bill Muldoon June 27, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Thought this might be a good place to post this. The following link is a surf prediction product that we use to predict the size and shape of our waves. It is very accurate, well as accurate as predicting the weather can be. It is subject to change depending on Alex’s course after re-emerging into the Gulf of Mexico. Regardless of his course we will see high seas from the South with a good swell period. Big powerful surf!

    How this will affect the oil spill? Place your bets here.


    Gulf Coast surfers are salivating. We will surf Alex’s swell. Regardless of health advisories and such. I know some will call us stupid, idiots and the like but unless you surf you will not understand. It is a Religion and in that name, many have given far more for far less. Most of us cannot fathom living without surfing so if surfing kills us the relationship will have taken care of itself…so it goes.

    As the water being safe…? Safe enough to make a Buck!


  • Russell Bonifay June 27, 2010 at 7:11 am

    It’s surprising that neither Mr. Lee nor Mr. Lanza are concerned about the law suits that are sure to follow from their advise assuring beach visitors they can safely enjoy the beaches of Santa Rosa Island. Given that their remarks were published in the PNJ, it seems they, or at least the county, would not stand a chance in court.

  • Briab C. Abrams June 26, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    This is like Buck Lee declaring that he sees no turds in the water therefore Mr. Lanza rescinds the health advisory in the local bayous that routinely are shut down for fecal matter.

  • Briab C. Abrams June 26, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Isn’t the three day in testing results for when your testing for bacteria and fecal matter, etc.? Three days to let the samples grow in a petri dish or some such?
    Testing for chemicals is almost as fast as testing your pool water chemical balance.

  • Cheryl June 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Hear hear Beverly!! You are so right and only moronic individuals would not see the irony here.

  • Michael Allen June 26, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    The Health Dept just looks at the water – no oil, then no Health Advisory. Mr. Lanza told us this at last Wednesday’s Escambia Extension Service forum, broadcast live on 1620. Surprised??