Oil has invaded beaches in Northwest Florida and has seeped into Pensacola Bay despite efforts to contain the orange gunk. The state is mobilizing hundreds of law enforcement officers and others to aid in the fight.
Despite best efforts, tar balls are floating in the water at the mouth of Pensacola Bay as two large ships pull boom nearby and a skimmer ship sucks in the oily gunk.
“You can see the sheen real well right here. There’s a lot of weathered, small tar balls right here.”
Since Tuesday, the Fish and Wildlife Commission has been trying to close and boom Pensacola Pass on incoming tides. Sarah Manning is one of the F-W-C officers involved in working the pass.
“We have two of our four Fish and Wildlife vessels in that pass for 24 hours while we close that.”
Manning says if more oil shows up in the bay, it is likely the Intracostal Waterway will be closed to commercial traffic. The closure becomes more likely with each incoming tide.
Ken Manning has been patrolling the waters for the Fish and Wildlife Commission. He doesn’t like what he sees.
“It’s just awful. The consistency of grease.”
Manning is getting help. More than a dozen FWC officers from south Florida have com here to Pensacola to join the fight.
Jorge Pino is a F-W-C communications officer stationed in Miami.
“We have several large vessels like the one that we’re on right now. Several small vessels that we brought as well. And we also brought all-terain vehicles that we’re going to use to patrol the beach to make sure if the oil does get onto the beach, we can be ready to direct recovery crews to that area.”
While just small deposits have drifted to inland waters so far, large concentrations are right off shore, and moving closer with every incoming tide.
Other state agencies are also beefing up their presence in Pensacola and increasing overtime to those already there, under the assumption BP will eventually pick up the tab.