BP Disaster

News: Should beaches be closed?

June 7, 2010

The Associated Press spent a significant part of yesterday’s press conferences focusing on whether our beaches should be closed. The Pensacola New Journal used some of the AP coverage for their article today on that issue.

While the Escambia County Commission is the final authority on the closure of the beaches, according to County Commissioner Gene Valentino, the Unified Command and the Escambia County Health Department will notify the BOCC if their monitoring shows there is a danger to public health.

Chips Kirschenfeld told reporters at the 4:30 pm press conference that the health department will be posting at the beach on Monday new signs that warn the public not to handle the tarballs.

On its website, the Escambia County Health Department states: “At this time there are no indications of health risks due to the Deepwater Horizon incident. Health officials have advised residents experiencing symptoms from possible odors (11.8kb; pdf) . Follow these tips to avoid negative health impacts. ”

The key trigger for closing the beaches will be if sheen is spotted on the waters washing on to the shores. To date, that hasn’t happened on Pensacola Beach or Perdido Key.

I spoke privately with Commissioner Grover Robinson about the public safety on the beach. He believes that BP should have more supervisors on the beaches that are easily identifiable and who can watch the public swimming areas on the beaches. These supervisors can dispatch clean-up workers quickly to areas that have an influx of the BP globs (my term) and can answer questions from the public.

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  • Jami Sanderson June 7, 2010 at 10:08 am

    The reason I moved here was for a beautiful beach. I hated Galveston Beach. BUT it is much cleaner now than 30 years ago, since the Coast Guard has such stringent rules for bilge dumping. I am just saying unless there is oil floating in the water, which is a serious danger, I will still go to the beach, and take my nail polish with me.

  • Betty McAlpin June 7, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Now that’s a lovely thought, Pensacola turning into Galveston Beach. I can’t say enough about the lovely brown water punctuated by floating masses of chemicals and of course those beautiful tar balls, brown sand, dead animals and the fresh aroma of petroleum and death. Yes, Galveston is such a lovely place. Let’s all hope we can become just like them, maybe replace the Pink Flamingo with a Skull and Crossbones.

  • Jami Sanderson June 7, 2010 at 7:01 am

    Growing up on Galveston Beach, tar balls never stopped the beach fun. Our ammo: a bottle of nail polish remover. Mom would always say to us before you put your feet in the car, “Check your feet for tar balls.” While it is a horrible thought for Pensacola Beach, tar balls are not going to kill anyone. Just take your nail polish remover…the acetone kind, not the fake nails kind.

    Back in those days 30-40 years ago, the tar balls were more a result of not having rules about ships and other marine craft discharging bilge than it was for an actual oil spill from a well source.