Thursday, July 22, 2010

WEAR ABC 3 :: Top Stories

WEAR ABC 3 :: Top Stories


PENSACOLA BEACH - There appears to be a lot less oil

PENSACOLA BEACH - There appears to be a lot less oil washing up on Pensacola Beach lately. But what about the oil you can't see?

Dan Thomas joins us now with a Channel Three news investigation.

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Rip Kirby has spent the last few years studying Northwest Florida beaches.

He's a Coastal Geologist with the University of South Florida.

When we first met him a few weeks ago, he showed us this... Sheets of oil under the sand, covered by the outgoing tide.

"Buried Tar and it's constant."
But lately, less oil has been washing up, and chances are if you dig today, you won't see it.

Dan Thomas/ "The Escambia Health Department says if you can see oil, you should avoid contact with it and take a look out here on the Gulf Islands National Seashore there's really no oil to be seen, that is until you use the UV light. When you shine it on the sand, just like a sheen on the water, it's there."

Through the filter of our camera, the sugar white sand becomes blue and what Kirby says is oil, becomes white.

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "So if you just literally, see the oil under neath it."

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "This is from somebody's tire track, it just fell off."

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "The particular oil product that's in here, was blown there."

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "This is where people scrape their feet. See all the oil right there?"

The stuff was everywhere, a few inches into the sand, a light dusting on top and still more washing in.

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "There's no contamination with the white light, only with the UV light. So during the day if some one came out here and sat in the sand, they're going to get oil product on them just from sitting in the sand. The question becomes how long can they sit in the sand and have it touch their skin and have them lay on the sand with simply a cotton towel between them and this, breathing it before it becomes a toxic problem for them to deal with 20 years from now when they have some kind of cancer? The answer to that is, I don't know."

Rip Kirby/USF Coastal Geologist: "We haven't seen and I've been looking for it for six weeks now and I have not seen a report that tells me the chemical constituents of the oil product that's in the beach sand."

We put a call in to BP... They say they're working on getting us that report.
So far we haven't seen it either.

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