News: Should beaches be closed?

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.