June 4th, 2010
03:19 PM ET

Oil confirmed on Pensacola beaches

Tar sits on the beach in Gulf Breeze, Florida, on Friday.

For days, CNN's small army of reporters, photographers and producers has been repositioning toward Florida as oil was expected to come ashore in the Sunshine State.

And on Friday morning, tar balls - hundreds of small bits of hardened oil - littered Pensacola's white beaches. Our iReporters had been saying they had spotted tar balls nearby and in different areas a few days earlier. So we set out to check the beaches.

Tourists were the first to begin cleaning it up. iReporter Marc Sigler said he had been camping in Fort Pickens on Tuesday when he saw tar balls; they spent the next day swimming, picking it up and cleaning the beach. iReport: See Sigler's photos

Further south on the beach on Friday, we saw blobs the size of a Frisbee of reddish-brown oil.

Nobody knew for sure whether the tar was from the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Local officials said that so much tar had been piling up that they didn't have the resources to test all the balls and blobs of oil locally, so they would be assuming that if they came in such large amounts now, they were probably from the disaster in the Gulf. Similar tar balls and oil slicks have shown up on beaches along the Gulf since the rig exploded and sank.

iReport: Help us track the oil disaster

Friday afternoon, reporters and residents got the answer they were waiting for: Florida's Division of Emergency Management issued a statement saying, "tar patties and tar balls have been confirmed in widely scattered areas east of Pensacola."

Reconnaissance flights are taking place to determine all of the locations nearby that may be affected. While that goes on, some tourists will keep on cleaning - and worrying.

Tourist Catherine Maloney looked at the blobs of oil with surprise and disgust before taking pictures of them.

"This is going to affect this area for years," she said. "It's already so quiet, it feels like a hurricane came."

soundoff (335 Responses)
  1. Peter

    We need to be using more renewable resources. BP cap that darn thing beeeaaach. Hopefully people/gov't wont make it worse when trying to cleanup the mess.

    June 4, 2010 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. horsey12

    "Drill baby, drill" sums up the responsibility pretty thoroughly. Thanks, GOP, for your d*^% deregulation...ruined our economy and now our beaches!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip Pierce

      Well said. At least it's affecting the red states only, for now. They got what they deserved, in my book.
      You won't see too many Republicans on the beaches, I'll bet. Environmentalists are wimps, right?
      Tree hugging, greenies, liberals – all the crap we eat from the GOP – we all had it wrong when we said that the environment is important, right? Suck on that oil red states – you earned it with Drill, baby, drill!!

      June 4, 2010 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. britney

    I think its just stupid that we cant even go on vacation to the beach without being covered in oil! We need to get someone in that knows what the hell they're doing..

    June 4, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Danson

      Not to be snarky, but who would this be exactly? The government's not in the undersea oil industry and neither is the military. The Army Corps of Engineers might have a clue, but their most recent experience was in Kuwait, on land. The oil industry developed the technologies to drill this deep in the ocean. Unfortunately, they didn't develop the technologies to quickly fix a mistake, unless you consider "Top Kill" the best, most advanced solution that petroleum engineers with PhD's could come up with in all of the decades that this industry has been operating.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • horsey12

      Why were the oil companies who drill offshore not required to prove that they could successfully cap in an emergency?
      Why is the oil industry not held to the same standards many others are? Could it be cronies in the White House (Bush-pere at fils) and the very influential oil lobby?
      Ya think?

      June 4, 2010 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. exasperated

    I am so saddened to hear this. Pensacola is my favorite beach. Ft. Pickens is a gorgeous area and it is my understanding that repairs to the damage made by hurricanes 5 years ago to the road were completed not long ago and the campground has not been reopened very long. Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in that area. Shame on you BP!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. nvr set foot in america

    hmm this is bad, but again no reason to stop living, and have round the clock cnn on the tele... america is not everything in fact I feel safe in saying its a melting pot for starters in life, and one you get going financially, you move out of america on to better life.

    June 4, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • jswfl

      You are an ignorant clown. The "tele." That explains it all. You will get yours. I am glad to hear you have never been here and I hope you never come. We have a lot of good people here, and we don't need more of your sad and pathetic type. I hope you find happiness in life one day, because it is apparent you are nothing but an old, bitter and sad excuse for a human being.

      June 5, 2010 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  6. projam

    pressure of the sputting oil/gas at the valve aws estimated at 6000+ psi, so take that into account when designing your solutions.

    June 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • horsey12

      Agreed, pretty d*^$#@ hard to stop...another reason it should not have been allowed to begin with!

      June 4, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mindy

    I think your idea is perfect. I would be willing to volunteer to cleanup
    the Pensacola Beaches for free hotel room and I'm sure there are
    many people would also want to do the same. I'm tired of hearing
    people talk let's take some action. BP should pay for the hotel rooms
    for the folks that volunteer to cleanup. Right On Mike!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. J. Richter

    Drill Baby Drill.
    Drill here, Drill Now, With tax breaks for it too. Open up less than half of our shores for drilling? No Obama. Not Enough! Only socialists do not open all their coasts for drilling. What wetlands? ANWR still off limits?

    Where's big government to take over and stop this carnage of our lands and lives? Government please take over this oil company's field. Government takeover please!!! Please!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jimmy

    You know I find it very funny that they keep saying there is oil showing up on beaches but we don't know if it came from the ol spill it's unconfirmed are you serious lol it's all from the oil spill and why they keep saying that it just baffles me look it's all from the oil spill come on get it together this is gonna turn out to be a global disaster!!!!!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Brian J. Donovan

    A viable strategy is to partially federalize the BP oil spill incident, use tankers (rather than 1,600 boats) to collect and separate the oil spill, and stop the use of dispersants.

    For a more complete discussion, visit:


    June 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • navarrebeach

      It seems that we could employ the Navy that is based in Pensacola to help with cleanup. Unbelievable that Obama has just now allowed the military to help...talk about last minute!

      June 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • horsey12

      @ Navarre Beach...know your beach very well and have loved it for many decades, also very sorry for your/our impending loss. Question is, why do you claim that our President was delinquent in calling in our military? My understanding is that BP has been very recalcitrant in accepting "outside" help. Further, none of our military forces specialize in off-shore oil well disaster containment. Those who drill should know how to deal with these disasters and if they do not, should never have been allowed to drill in the first place!

      June 4, 2010 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. RoseLakota, Canada

    Please, can someone answer this question as I have yet to see it discussed by any news reporter: "What is the protocol for handling oil that is picked up on the beaches? Where will it go? How will it be disposesd? Burned... buried... does anyone know if a protocol has been established? Will people just fill plastic bags and toss them into local landfills?"

    June 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip Pierce

      Perhaps the collected oil should be deposited over the heads and homes of the bp executives and the regulators that they slept with. Then torch it and watch the SOBs do a river dance!!!

      June 4, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Report abuse |
  12. navarrebeach

    I'm in Navarre Beach, FL now (at the opposite end of Santa Rosa Island from Pensacola Beach) and small tar balls are rolling on shore. People have been cleaning the beach all day; I am about to scan the beach myself for balls, equipped with a shovel and gloves. We are very distressed and disheartened about the lack of concern and protection of our white sand beaches and the fragile ecosystem. There aren't any oil booms in place; a rally is scheduled to be held tomorrow morning at the Navarre Pier at 8:30 a.m. If you are in the area, please come support our community. I am especially worried about the nesting birds and other wildlife that are in danger; the area between Pensacola Beach and Navarre Beach is a National Seashore that has no protection whatsoever–no booms at all. They say it is because of the high waves but something must be done to protect this precious ecosystem!

    June 4, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Chip Pierce

    What goes around, comes around.
    Florida gave us GW Bush >> Bush/ Cheney helped big oil continue to be 5 most profitable businesses in world history >> big oil screws Florida >> Florida will help elect a new GOP president in 2012....maybe 2016.....and maybe only the dead and dying wildlife deserve our compassion here, not Floridians.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Report abuse |

    You have all been brain washed by your media. They can stop this, with many different methods actually. They don't want to, and one person out of all the commentors got it right. So sad that you believe everything your told. If BP stops this leak they will NOT be allowed to drill the relief wells and will likely be removed from the Gulf. Unless they negotiate with Cuba since U.S. still has a trade embargo which does encompass offshore oil rigs.

    All this nonsense about too much pressure, is just that nonsense. They are drilling a well right now over 8,500 feet in Canada's waters in the North Atlantic. Close to double this ones depth. But trust the Canadians to not put up with such B.S. and if there is a problem it will be shutdown the same day.

    June 4, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Off-T-Grid

    I have a question for Florida. What is going to happen to the water aquafer that everyone in FL uses as drinking water? My understanding is that the makeup of Fl is sand and shale. As water passes thru, it cleans rain water and gets stored in caverns in the ground. Gulf and ocean water must also leach thru to these caverns. Will the disperssents and oil toxicins leach into the aquafer?

    June 4, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chip Pierce


      June 4, 2010 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nature Coast

      Not really a problem as the springs and underlying aquifers are at higher pressure, and if anything, fresh water percolating down into the sands of Fl push out into the sea.
      Only exception is a few places they sucked too much water out, like St Petersburg or Miami and the local aquifers get salty.
      The disaster will be in the marshes. I pray for places like Chaswitzka, Tampa Bay and the Big Bend. The southern keys have been screwed for years anyway...but the death knell to the coral could be coming.

      June 4, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
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