Cleanup crews led by the U.S. Coast Guard removed 3,750 pounds of oil-laced sand from Johnson Beach on Perdido Key this week after the oil washed up along a half-mile stretch of beach during Hurricane Sally.
U.S. Coast Guard Marine Science Technician First Class Robert Fleshman told the News Journal that the crews removed 150 bags, each weighing 25 pounds, from Johnson Beach on Thursday.
Crews used shovels to manually gather up the oil and polluted sand and then bagged it and removed it from the beach.
The Coast Guard coordinated the cleanup effort among the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service.
The source of the oil is still unknown, but Fleshman said it was extremely weathered and old oil.
The Coast Guard collected a sample when the oil was initially discovered in the days after Hurricane Sally made landfall, but the results from the sample were inclusive.
“We believe that’s because it’s just an extremely weathered oil product that washed up on the shoreline there,” Fleshman said. “Additionally, NOAA did take their own sample, I believe on the 12th of October, and sent it off to Louisiana State University for analysis, but that analysis has not come back yet.”
Oil on Johnson Beach:Oil washes up along 5 miles of Johnson Beach on Perdido Key 10 days after Sally
Fleshman said the oil did not reach the dune area of the beach, and there have been no reports of impact to the wildlife of Johnson Beach.
Cmdr. Kelly Thorkilson, Coast Guard Hurricane Sally incident commander, said in a press release that the Coast Guard worked closely with other agencies to clean up the oil quickly within the environmentally sensitive area.
“We swiftly coordinated the recovery of oil, which eliminated the pollution threat, in a manner that leaves sensitive habitats intact and increases the ability of reconstitution,” Thorkilson said.
Jim Little can be reached at email@example.com and 850-208-9827.