Tuesday, October 19, 2010

USF researchers: Ultraviolet tests show ‘contaminated' beach

Beaches are still contaminated from the BP oil spill! Walton Sun

WALTON COUNTY — A researcher for the University of South Florida Coastal Research Lab recently examined Walton County beaches under UV light and says they are “still contaminated” after the BP oil spill.

Rip Kirby, a graduate student, held a high-powered ultraviolet light over one stretch of beach, and it illuminated patches of what he says are “accumulation of petroleum product and dispersant.” He apologized for not taking samples sooner.

“This beach is just as contaminated as the rest, I’m sorry,” Kirby said, adding, “I took the local government officials’ word that these beaches were not impacted and stopped my testing in Destin.”

Walton County Emergency Operations Director Joe Preston did not return multiple calls from The Sun. Walton County Commissioners Cecilia Jones and Scott Brannon also did not return multiple calls. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office also did not return calls.

Kirby, who lives in Fort Walton Beach, and the team from USF have been independently investigating the effects of the spill since shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20. Their efforts were chronicled by a National Geographic photographer in July.

Kirby tested the sands in Walton County late last month at the request of The Sun in response to the communities’ mounting concerns regarding the condition of the beaches and inland waterways and what many say is the lack of response from local, state and federal officials.

Part of the problem, Kirby said, is the methods used by BP oil spill cleanup crews.


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