"Most people around here have no idea what is about to happen. It will be a major, major disaster."As of this writing, it has not yet been reported that the U.S. Coast Guard has managed to set alight any of the pools of oil floating offshore in Louisiana near the site of the Deepwater disastrous oil spill. The effort can do little to stem the tide of oil heading shoreward, anyway.-- U.S. Park Service Ranger, Ft. Pickens, Santa Rosa Island
(Apr. 28, 2010)
At most, only "a few thousand gallons" can be set on fire at any one time. After the fires die away, toxic residue will remain in the water for months or even years, and eventually wash ashore or sink to smother sea life.
Prevailing winds are expected to shift as soon as late this afternoon. That may make corralling small clumps of floating oil and setting them afire even more difficult, if not impossible. As a midday report on the Pensacola News Journal web site reports, "Shifting winds this afternoon are expected to push a massive sheen of oil closer to the Florida coast in coming days."
Locally, the U.S. Park Service has gone to "Cat 2" status. The alert status is equivalent to a strong hurricane endangering mariners that falls just below "major" hurricane status. Booms are being unloaded and placed along particularly sensitive shorelines near Ft. Pickens and Perdido Key.
Park employees tell us, however, that the booms are largely a mere palliative. "They really can't do much if anything to protect the sea life or the Gulf environment," one ranger who asked for anonymity told us today. "It's for public relations as much as anything."
Chasidy Fisher Hobbs of the respected, very mainstream "Emerald Coastkeepers, Inc.," sent out an email this afternoon that's gone as viral as any email can. Here it is, more or less formatted as received:
THERE IS SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH AN INDUSTRY WHOSE ONLY ALTERNATIVE TO CLEANING UP A MESS IS TO BURN IT!!
Here are a few things I have learned this morning: We can only hope that this terrible tragedy moves our country closer to energy independence with alternative energy sources.
1. BP contractors are not accepting help from any volunteers and do not expect to;
2. Apparently BP contractors at Pensacola NAS have a plan to keep the oil just offshore and then collect it in a terminal containment boom for removal;
3. It has been deemed impossible to block the pass due to fluctuating currents;
4. Trained personnel have been brought in to our area and have begun booming off sensitive areas around the pass;
5. A central operations unit is being set up in Mobile to coordinate efforts in this area should the burning of the oil prove folly.
We may not be able to help remove oil today, but we can all help to keep rigs out of Florida waters. Thanks to one your Directors, Derek Cosson (ProgressivePensacola.com) you can help with a few simple clicks.
There is now a form letter on our website so you can send a message to Florida legislators letting them know that we do not want rigs in State waters. Please take 1 minute to send a message: http://www.emeraldcoastkeeper.
Then, pass the link on and get as many folks to send the message as you can.