That was news to Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson.
“Oh, are they staying open?” he asked.
The Commissioner said the county had reached out to senators Jeff Miller, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio in hopes the lawmakers might be able to intervene. He didn’t know if that had happened.
The facility will now remain open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, and by appointment during those hours Tuesday through Saturday.
Robinson said the Commission had been concerned the local Gulf Coast Claims Facility was being shut down. He said it was unacceptable that residents were looking at driving to Fort Walton Beach or Gulf Shores, Ala., to deal with their BP claims.
The Commissioner also said he was “ticked off” that other locales much farther from the spill—like in Key West—remained open as Pensacola’s was closing.
“That really upset me. They’re just trying to make it more difficult for people to file claims,” he said. “What else for?”
Last week, BP and state officials announced that they were declaring the clean-up phase of the oil spill complete and would soon begin phase two, restoration. With that move, BP will require officials to identify new oil washing up on their beaches as originating from the company’s Macondo site in order to have it cleaned.
According to LSU scientist Ed Overton, oil becomes increasingly more difficult to positively link to a source as it ages and weathers. Commissioner Robinson said that he had not been made aware of that.
“No, no, no,” he said. “That would be an issue.”
With county officials pegging weekly tar ball estimates at between 200 to 500 pounds, cost could also become a factor. The Commissioner was not aware of the cost involved in testing oil, but assumed BP wouldn’t be leaving the scene to begin with until the amount of new tar balls decreased dramatically.
“If things are still popping up, they have to be there,” Robinson said.