As I have previously noted the beaches around Pensacola, FL are some of my favorite places to go when I need to get a sand and surf fix.
With miles of sugar sand and clear water there really is not a better place to recharge one’s batteries and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
That pristine getaway was placed in the cross hairs of a natural disaster in 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon incident occurred.
For those unfamiliar with it, the Deepwater Horizon was an oil platform that had a major malfunction which lead to oil spilling freely into the Gulf of Mexico.
The well was eventually capped and the flow of oil was stopped but not before beaches from Florida to Texas felt the effects.
For weeks after the spill crews scoured the areas most impacted and performed remediation efforts to help affected wildlife and land.
In Florida countless man hours were spent ensuring that those beaches remained pristine and oil free. When oil was spotted it was quickly removed.
All seemed to be in the clear but recent activities have shown that there is still work to be done below the surface to ensure that the entire Gulf of Mexico recovers from the spill.
According to the Pensacola News Journal, about 450 pounds of weathered oil was mined from the surf zone on Pensacola Beach during a recent10-day excavation project.
Many locals had long thought that there was still oil in the water and now those fears appear to be warranted.
The pockets of hidden oil show that the problem goes far beyond just surface impacts due to the absorbent nature of sand.
Other projects have shown effects on wildlife in the oil zone to also be worse than originally thought. Various levels of the food chain will continue to be monitored to see what impacts are being felt. Sadly, it will most likely be decades before the full impact is known.
Few would argue that oil is an important part of life and is needed for everything from transportation to power generation. But, when things do go wrong in the drilling for oil and entire ecosystems are but at risk it becomes time to look at all sides of the argument and ensure that impacts are minimized and the oil is removed in the safest way possible.
I certainly don’t want to paint the picture that the beaches are just one big oil sponge.
I have been to the beaches of Pensacola several times since the spill occurred and to the naked eye life does appear to have returned to normal with the sand and water still as clean as I recall. And when I dig in the sand it is not like I become Jed Clampett with bubbling crude coming out of the ground.
What I am saying is that the diligence needs to continue to ensure that as much of the hidden oil as possible is removed.
Generations of people have counted on the Gulf of Mexico for food and relaxation. And with the right steps now it should be available for generations to come.
There is certainly more to life than a stroll on the beach. But everybody deserves the option to stroll on that beach and to stroll oil free when the time to stroll does come.
Now if you’ll excuse me, all of this talk about oil reminds me that I need to go change the oil in my car.
Copyright 2013 R Anderson