Geologist says Florida panhandle beaches still affected by tar balls from Deepwater Horizon disaster
More than two years ago the Deepwater Horizon exploded, setting off the worst maritime oil accident in U.S. history. The petroleum industry as well as people in the seafood and tourism sectors would like you to believe the effects of the oil disaster are long gone. But our guest has found lingering evidence of oil and dispersant on the beaches of Floridaâs Panhandle. In a manuscript published last month, Rip Kirby included photos of people who had been in the surf and then showered. Under normal light, you canât see any contamination, but under ultraviolet light, you can see splotches of contamination. Rip is a graduate student in the Geology department at the University of South Florida.
Hereâs one line from the findings â âWeathered tar product sourced fro crude oil dispersed with Corexit brand chemical dispersants were found to have [polyaromatic hydrocarbon] concentrations consistently in excess of the [Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health] limits.â
In photos under ultraviolet light, there are "numerous spots of [tar product created from weathered dispersed crude oil dispersed with Corexit] contamination absorbed in skin."
In the natural environment when thereâs no dispersant, crude oil is normally broken down by bacteria. But âCorexit dispersant is toxic to the two main species of bacteria known to biodegrade crude oil in situ.â
The contamination was widespread along the coast from Mississippi through parts of the Florida Panhandle. "Of the 32 collection sites, only 3 were found to be free of [polyaromatic hydrocarbon] contamination."
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Here's another study about lingering effects of the disaster: 'Frothy Gunk' From Deepwater Horizon Spill Harming Corals