Thursday, March 17, 2011

WEAR ABC 3 :: Top Stories - Underwater Tarmats in Pensacola

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PENSACOLA BEACH - BP won't announce until next week what they plan to do about several underwater tarmats off Escambia County Beaches. According to a federal government map, There are still 11 tarmats just a few yards off shore. Across the line in Alabama, a BP contractor is scooping up the mats. But in Florida only one mat has been removed… it was on Perdido Key in front of the Eden Condominiums. And there is no known plan to clean up the rest. Channel Three's Dan Thomas is at Pensacola Beach with more on what people there would like to see done… Dan? Let me just show you where we are… this is Aveneda 13… and looking at that map you just showed there the only two tarmats on Pensacola Beach are located directly south of here. The spring breakers we talked to today, didn't need a map. They've had no problem finding the oil. For these spring breakers from Missouri first noticed something odd when they were looking for souvenirs. Giana Calbello/Spring Breaker: "A tiny bit got on my hand and I wipe on my towel." Mary Lillis/Spring Breaker: "We were fishing with nets for shells, we call it shelling and it was just brown, I thought it was shark poop at first." But the mystery brown stuff didn't wash off easily… Ryan Funk/Spring Breaker: "Basically when I first saw it in the sand I thought it was a rock." But after Ryan Funk of Pace got a closer look, he realized it was oil. Ryan Funk/Spring Breaker: "It kind of did surprise me with all the efforts I thought BP was making to clean up but obviously as you can see, there's still so much to do." But BP won't be doing it anytime soon. Their experts in New Orleans couldn't speak to these specific tarmats but said there are often challenges to getting the right equipment in place. So far, they've cleaned up one mat in Perdido Key and say they're not sure when or if they'll clean up anymore. In the meantime, they'll continue observe the mats… waiting for the rough surf to break them up… and then pickup the resulting tarballs once they've washed ashore. Ryan Funk/Spring Breaker: "Personally I think they should go out there right now and clean it up because if they wait for it to break up, it's just going to make more of a mess. It will get on more shells and more sand.">> BP will release what they call a strategic plan next week. We're told that will shed more light on what they plan to do with the tarmats under the water. Wednesday, March 16 2011, 10:04 PM EDT

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