The Wait is Over for Florida as Tar Balls Wash Ashore

Guest Blog | June 7, 2010 | Climate Change, Energy Policy, Offshore Drilling

Guest Blog by Dr. Enid Sisskin

The wait is over.  For the last six weeks we’ve waited and wondered when we in Florida would start seeing the physical impacts of the Gulf disaster.  In spite of all of our efforts to keep rigs off of Florida’s beaches we see now that no matter how far away the rigs are sited, there is still the potential for environmental catastrophe for all of us.

Now we’re seeing tarballs wash up on our white sandy beaches.  Crews, coastal residents and tourists are scavenging the beaches for the tarballs and scooping them up.  That will only work as long as the amount of oil remains small and manageable.  Whatever doesn’t get picked up will potentially get ground into the sand, end up in the substrate, and eventually bubble up to the surface on hot days for years to come.

What worries me is what I have seen offshore.  Recently I took a flight to the site where BP’s tragic spill started with Dr. Stephen Smith, Executive Director of the flyover_1Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.  We were struck by the incredible magnitude of the destruction.  The scope of the spill was absolutely monumental; oil sheen could be seen as far as the eye could see.   It was just a matter of time until those ribbons of petroleum eventually washed ashore.

Also offshore are the submerged plumes of oil – some of them miles long and wide.  This is a threat to the entire ecosystem.  There is no precedent for this and we don’t know how damaged the Gulf will be – but I’m sure it will be substantial.

Last is the amount of bad information we are getting aided and abetted by our government.  Does no one else find it ironic that as of today BP is claiming that they are collecting 10,000 barrels of oil a day from their latest cap?  These are the people who have never admitted to actually releasing more than 5,000 barrels/day AND when you look at the underwater camera, there does not seem to be any decrease in the flow.

I have lost all faith that we will ever know the truth.


Dr. Sisskin is an Adjunct Professor at the University of West Florida and is a board member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.  She has lived on the Gulf Coast, in Gulf Breeze for 17 years and has been an environmental activist working against offshore drilling all that time.

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