The entrance to Pensacola Bay will be boomed this afternoon and tonight. The decision was made between 12 noon and 1 pm today by Dusty Warner, Sectional Superintendent for the Unified Command out of Mobile.
Not long after that, we were wandering along the beach at Ft. Pickens and happened to run into Warner. He told us he had just approved a modified version of the V-shaped boom proposal submitted some weeks ago by Escambia County.
"Most of the bay entrance will be boomed," he explained. "One part will remain open."
Booms will be extended across the bay entrance to contain the oil and channel it, like a funnel, to the opening. A single oil skimmer will be stationed at the opening to skim oil from the surface.
We spoke as spongy orange tarballs (see left) and smaller, black weathered tarballs were washing ashore in the surf all along the western tip of Santa Rosa Island.
Warner, who also is a veteran ranger for the U.S. Park Service, said he serves as a Unified Command superintendent for emergency response "incidents," as they are known, all around the country. He's been in Mobile since shortly after the Deepwater Horizon well blow-out.
According to Warner, the revised booming plan will present no danger to sea turtles.
"If a turtle comes up against a hard surface like a boom it will turn away and seek another route," he said. "But if it meets something soft like those," he said, gesturing toward a large stack of plastic pom-poms near near the bay entrance, "a sea turtle will try to push through and get entangled and die."
Consequently, the bags of pom-poms arranged by subcontractors awaiting permission from the Unified Command (see below) will not be used, after all, at the entrance to the bay.
"They won't work anyway," Ranger Warner added. "They're pretty much worthless in the current out there."