Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Will Alabama Beaches Never Be The Same?

A very special thanks to Project Gulf Impact for their assistance in making my work possible.

This video covers 8 months of impact from the BP Slick and most recently, a walk with Pam Batson, Mobile resident, along the Dauphin Island East Beach 12/11/10.
I had never seen the beach in such bad condition overall.
Heavy equipment was working in 6 locations along the beach sifting, and excavating all but the dune areas of the entire island coast.
I fear this is only the beginning. Nowhere in the impact area will our shores be the same in my lifetime. Our beautiful Alabama beaches may never be the same.

Will Alabama Beaches Never Be The Same?
Sat. Dec. 11, 2010 Dauphin Island
On Dec.11, 2010, Pam Batson and John Wathen, Hurricane Creekkeeper took a walk along the East shore of Dauphin Island based on a tip she gave me from a previous visit. The sands of Dauphin Island no longer look white below the tide line. It has a yellow look and the tide lines are yellow as well.

As we walked along the beach close to the tidal pools high on the beach I could see a brownish orange material covering the sand. There was a heavy foam in the tidal pools that was the same color as the tainted sand surrounding them. The wind was pretty heavy so it was difficult to photograph but I thought could detect a possible sheen around the edges.
Orange / Brown foam in tidal pools

Thick black mats of material covered parts of the beach as much as an inch think with a rubbery substance she said had been described as "Organics" by the US Coast Guard. I won't disagree with the USCG since the slimey mess did have a greenish tint to it when kicked open, but will someone answer the question, why so many square acres of it an inch think on an island noted for it's white sands?
Acres of 1" thick black mats cover acres of beach

(USCG explained it as "biological" (I want to know why so much, why now?)

Walking out to the incoming surf, I encountered heavy brown foam and the scent of petroleum periodically. At one point the sun broke out a little and I was able to get the distinct rainbow colors of petroleum on the water.
Brown rainbow foam in the surf

The foam along the shore was heavy and brownish orange similar to what I became accustomed to seeing in Barataria Bay washing ashore along those islands as well.

On the leeward side of the island there was a bevy of activity. Everything from heavy equipment to minnow net strainers was being used to remove tarballs found everywhere. A large scale sifter and conveyor system was in use being loaded from a track hoe atop a huge pile of sand and loaded on trucks where it is being deposited on the beach as new dunes.
Watching us watching them

Several such sifting operations were set up along the beach from East to West.

I know something has to be done but this to me looked a lot like blending the dispersed oil balls into the sand and spread out.
Many places where I kicked up the sand, the orange and yellowish material was just under the surface.

I don't think our Alabama beaches will ever be white again in my lifetime, if ever. BP should be held to no time lines when it comes to accountability. This is going to keep coming for years to come and no amount of high dollar ad campaigns are going to change that.

One thing that flew in my face and frankly made me want to throw something. While our Alabama fishermen are out of work and in dire need of help, BP contractors have the gall to bring in workers from Texas with who blatantly fly their Texas flag while taking Alabama jobs!

The Gulf of Mexico, in my opinion is a toxic soup of god knows what and what it's life span will be no one can possibly predict. Years into the future we are going to be still hearing of new oil slicks and new unexplained illnesses along our beautiful Gulf Coast.

From Florida to the shores of Texas, no community has been spared to some degree. Some had heavy oil, some none at all but the impacts were much more far reaching than the shore line and wildlife. It's time for a united Gulf to take on the taunting task of holding both the government and BP accountable for what I see as an assault on our civil rights to live and prosper in a safe clean environment, regardless of political or financial status! All must be accounted for, both human and those in the wild.
Brown Pelican... Black Beach, Dauphin Island Alabama 12/11/10
 Will our beaches NEVER be the same as before April 20, 2010 is a question for future generations I am afraid.

Many Thanks to Pam Batson for making this story possible
John L. Wathen,
BP Slick


  1. So depressing and angering. So unfair of the global elite to do this to our beautiful blue water planet and its inhabitants. And extra insulting to see beyond a doubt they could care less.

  2. Thank you for creating this film. It will educate and show the truth. I am weeping for the loss. Even seashells are swept away. All natural beauty is destroyed. Thank you for showing before and after shots. Very important to show future generations how our dependence on oil has effected our beautiful beaches. Where are the crabs and birds? What a sad sight. Kaye Kiker, Alabama

  3. OK Now then I you are an AMERICAN and your not Pissed off about B.P.s DISASTER then may this will help ! The TV does not tell the TRUTH !! the only way to find out that is to hear from thous on the FRONT LINE . Wake up and smell the B.S. That B.P. is trying to feed the PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

  4. Dauphin Island beaches were never white in the same way Gulf Shores beaches have been. Before BP spill, there was intermittent mysterious colors, sheens, and so on, likely from old leaking wells and tankers heading up Mobile Bay. I reported to the SEA LAB the presence of tar balls appearing on the southern shore on at least one occasion, several years before BP.

  5. David,
    I agree that the sands on Dauphin Island were never the sugar white color of other parts of the Gulf farther East. However, The colors I saw and documented were never there before in this quantity and apparent totality. Many reports of tar balls over the years have been reported I know. Never though to the extent where heavy excavating machines were being used to blend it in because there was too much to clean up.

    And speaking of tar balls, there things we are seeing are NOT tar balls. These are dispersed oil beads, slicks, and plumes.

    Tar balls are hard, weathered formations with very little scent,left after years of floating around at sea in the sun and salt water. They don't burn and are very stable in the sunlight.

    What is coming in now is soft, oily, and melts in your hand in sunlight. (ONLY TRY THIS WITH RUBBER GLOVES ON)
    It smells like petro product and one sample has exploded in a lab test for VOCs.

    What we are seeing now is extreme and obviously a by-product of the BP Slick disaster.

  6. Remember what the Hebrew prophet wrote.

    Hosheyah 4:3 Therefore, the land will morn, and every one who dwells in it will languish, with the beast of the fields and the fowls of the air, yes, even the fish of the sea will be taken away.

    These words really mean what they say.

    Just as the Hebrew Messiah said in Luke 24:25 we are FOOLS if we don't believe them.

    Its not just BP its the whole of mankind and his greed that has caused this.



  7. I believe that much of the brown color and sifting activity is because the sand used for beach restoration is relatively dirty material dredged up from the bay side washover or Mobile Bay ship channels (or elsewhere; I don't know). Regardless of source, it is very likely to contain natural organics plus and all sorts of debris from Katrina-smashed houses. I saw rocks, bottle caps, and other trash mixed into the artificial dunes. Time and nature will clean it (bleach it). I am hopeful, and not JUST because we bought a DI house this year.

  8. "Anonymous said...

    I believe that much of the brown color and sifting activity is because the sand used for beach restoration is relatively dirty material dredged up from the bay side washover or Mobile Bay ship channels"

    You are correct in saying that some of the color came from the dirty bottom dredge spoil. That too was contaminated with Corexit and oil so pumping it back up onto the beach seems like a dangerous proposition.

    I have to say that there were more than a few dispersed oil balls being spread and raked into the sand. I personally saw acres and acres of these oil balls that were simply being mixed and dragged to the waters edge where it mixed brown and oily with the surf.

    What I saw was NOT all natural organics. Listen to the video again. I stated that some of it was organic, but I have never seen it as thick and as far spread out on the front side on the island.

    I was also on the coast for Katrina. That was in 2005, 6 years ago. The Dauphin Island beaches did not turn this brown and have almost as much dispersed oil as sand until this year, after the BP Slick disaster.

    Not trying to be combative here, but I have been covering those beaches for 8 months now and have watched them deteriorate terribly. I don't think that in my lifetime I will ever feel safe swimming in the Gulf or eating from it.

  9. Just keep buying huge SUV's people
    We don't need an Earth anyway

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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