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. Matt

    Tar balls are not rare on Gulf Coast beaches. They've been there forever. Maybe they are rare on these particular beaches, but tar balls in the GUlf Coast are nothing new or particularly worrisome.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • navarrebeach

      @ Matt/ Tar balls are very rare on Santa Rosa Island where Pensacola Beach, Navarre Beach and the Gulf Islands National Seashore are located. We have pristine white beaches and a fragile ecosystem that must be protected. There are no oil booms anywhere near the shore; migratory birds are nesting right now on the shores of the National Seashore. This is going to be detrimental to the environment.

      June 4, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. joshwilson38

    he's doing what he can.people want him to turn into aquaman and swim 5000 below and stop the spill.where the hell the retarded palin,or the repukeblicans.i haven't heard any of them giving any solutions.

    June 4, 2010 at 8:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I'm furious!

    So this is what it takes for people to see the danger in supporting off-shore drilling. Nuclear energy isn't any safer, ask Russia. But as usual, we'll wait for a major accident to happen before we will realize the danger. Could there possibly be a more stupid civilization anywhere in the universe? Not likely....

    June 4, 2010 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  4. I'm furious!

    So this is what it takes for people to see the danger in off-shore drilling???

    June 4, 2010 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      And, you buy gasolene? With MTBME.

      June 5, 2010 at 4:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. I'm furious!

    Why doesn't Obama, the President shut down BP until they have this situation resolved and the communities have been re-embursed for their losses, past, present and heading into the future. They need to be shut down now!

    June 4, 2010 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      if you can fix it, do it. Sucks it happened. Just remember it the next time you buy Gasolene. This spill is not good.

      June 5, 2010 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Louisianna

    BTW, does anyone know how many times George W. made it to New Orleans during the aftermath of Katrina?

    June 4, 2010 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Anthony

    For the people that say that drilling on land is "safe" and that drilling offshore is more dangerous have never ever set foot on a drilling rig of any kind. there is pretty much no regulatory compliance checks on land drilling operations, it is left up to the state where the drilling is occuring, and OSHA if they happen to stop by. (never heard of an actual OSHA visit)

    We in the oil industry have been drilling safely offshore since 1947. We have been drilling in deepwater since the late 90's.

    For those who seem to be so grossly uninformed, . When the the well first kicked and started running away from them they had become so underbalanced that they had lost circulation. When it started coming up the hole the gas got all over the rig and ignited. when the fire started the TSE's burnt out and the BOP's on the sea floor and the rig floor should have shut effectively sealing the wellbore. Having your rig burn down from underneath you kind of negates the top set of BOP's. So it was left to the seafloor BOP's. No one anticipated their failure.

    It is a tragedy that beaches and wildlife are being oiled. But do not hold the rest of the industry that operates safely to the fire for what BP and Transocean did or did not do. It is obvious that BP and Transocean were substandard in their operating practices and procedures...this is not the status quo throughout the GOM / North Sea / South China Sea / Offshore Australia.

    Please people. Do a smidgeon of research, talk to someone who makes their living around this stuff. A marked percentage of the people I have seen on TV as "experts" have no idea as to what they are talking about.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huh?

      Is that like don't tax me because some one else was too stupid to know that you can't take too much from the system forever? or how about don't blame me because someone was too stupid to know that if you kick the dog it'll bite you? or is that just like don't blame me because I want to keep risking the future so I can get a paycheck? Seriously. There is a reason they banned drilling off the coast of California the last time this crap happened. It is irresponsible not to force the industry to take responsibility. With great profits come great responsibility for the costs. Period.

      June 4, 2010 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. cojones

    Sarah Palin; where are youUUUUUUU.?? I really want to DRILL YOUUUUUU>!!!

    June 4, 2010 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rick

    So the "top kill" and "junk shot" didn't work – and neither has the "top hat"... so what's next? Wait two months for a "relief well"?

    OK, I'm not the smartest guy on the planet, but if the "heavy mud" and golf balls and old tires didn't work, how about we take another look at the table of known elements??

    How about we use LEAD? Lead is one of the heaviest elements on earth, relatively inexpensive and highly available (and a lot less toxic than the oil that's spilling). Why can we force appropriately-shaped and sized pieces of lead down the throat of this beast and "choke it"? You can call it the "lead choke shot", if you need a catchy name.

    It's time to start thinking differently. This leak needs to be stopped up and clogged up. BP needs to forget about pumping this oil to the surface to recover some of their costs for this catastrophy and do whatever it takes to stop the leak.

    What do we have to lose by shoving lead down the drill bore? It IS much heavier than the oil and gas and with enough of it, it will slow the flow down. Perhaps it would slow it down enough that the top hat can suck up the rest!

    June 4, 2010 at 9:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • paul

      Hey, If you can fix it, please do it. Or damn help!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 5, 2010 at 4:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. David Chesser

    This is an absolute TRAVESTY!!! I used to go to Pensacola beach all the time when I was a kid. I used to brag about the pristine water and the salt-white sands which could not be found anywhere but Pensacola. What a shame.

    June 4, 2010 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Theresa Carson

    We live in St.Pete.We already have a volunteer list of up to 5,000 people to police our beaches in Pinellas County for any garbage if the oil comes our way.We do not want any garbage at all getting oiled up and washed back out into the Gulf!My sister & I are on that list! We don't litter,but many do!At least it is a start!

    June 4, 2010 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. jimmie

    i need some change.. a white president who gives a da– hope obama winds up like the pelicans but in sh–, not oil

    June 4, 2010 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ruth

      What does race have to do with it Idiot?

      June 5, 2010 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bailoutsos

    Reminds me of managing a retail store. You know people are going to steal, but does it cost more to try to prevent it or just let them steal up to a certain level?

    June 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JJ

    I'm sitting here in tears at the thought of my favorite beaches ruined by oil and the ecology damaged for decades (look for stories about the lack of rebound after the Valdez spill). If I could take time from my family here I'd go to my Pensacola family and help!

    I have so much anger with little outlet! A BP boycott is meaningless. Being mad at the government means nothing until the next election. The greed of the world saddens me!

    June 4, 2010 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
  15. daniel

    This disaster has name and last name: BP. Huge companies that make huge profits setting the price of gas wherever they want. What company is able to stay in business after a disaster like this other than these huge ones? All those blaming Obama just show their anti Obama feelings and prejudices. This is where this system with monstrous companies managing the world is leading us. The responsibility of the government is allowing BP and others do what they do as they do.

    June 4, 2010 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
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