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. Griff

    I'll not have name calling on this board.
    I know it's a very emotional time, but we need to work together.
    I am volunteering my time, will you...and you....

    June 6, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jim Rice

    I was stationed in Pensacola in 1955-57 and I remember the pristine white sand beaches.
    I have been back and camped at Ft Pickin's Park with my two sons and a Boy Scout Troop. I love that area and the time I spent in Pensacola and on S. Palofox at Trader Jon's. I pray that the leak is stopped and over time the environment will recover although I'm afraid it will take a long time and I won't be around to see it. Several people have mentioned Pegleg Petes and I share their opinions. It's a great place for oysters. I used to eat a lot of oysters at Richie's. The best was from Bon Secour Bay at Mobile.. They will be affected also along with the rest of the Gulf seafood.

    June 6, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Mark

    The State of Florida should sue BP, to force it to clean up every last smudge.

    June 6, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Pcola1

    I am disheartened by the damage done already, and the damage to come. But at the same time, surprised at some of the suggestions I hear on a daily basis around here, as though they are fact. I went into a local watering-hole the other day, only to hear how the military (here) had offered to help, and BP rejected it. Considering I am at the base, I found this a bit surprising to say the least – what exactly is an aviation-training base going to do to help with an underwater spill? We are teaching people how to fly aircraft, or how to fix or direct aircraft, or how to perform rescues at sea via helicopter – not training or housing divers or undersea demolition experts. There is a dive school in Panama City, but even there I'm not sure they'd have either the resources or expertise that something of this magnitude requires. [I think they were just confusing the news reports from when BP had moved its operations from the base to Bayou Chico – because I can't really imagine what 'help' NAS P'cola would have to offer in general.]

    As for unbolting the flange and replacing it – I'm certainly no expert, but I cannot imagine how, once the old flange was off, you'd ever get another one in place to bolt in. The force of the oil coming out would (seem to me) to pretty much mean that you'd never get anything back in the same place – an ROV isn't going to be able to hold it in place long enough to line up the bolt-holes, much less manuever even a single bolt in and torque it down. I don't know if you've been watching any of the ROV's feeds, but just watching them try to do any work when it means having to reach into that near-solid curtain of oil is sobering.

    On 'drill baby drill' – unfortunately, drilling in the Gulf is (IMHO) never going to stop unless the reserves there run out. I'd be for more/better regulation over calling a halt – only because as long as it's a wanted commodity (and even if all of us stopped driving today, it still would be – we don't have solar-powered airplanes, or ships, nor are all of our electrical power stations non-petroleum), someone will find a way to get to it, from outside our area of regulation. What's better – a company doing business within our jurisdiction, that we can hold accountable – or one that is completely outside our jurisdiction, that we can't? Ixtoc 1, anybody? Why is it that all comparisons are being made to the Valdez rather than to Ixtoc – another well in Gulf waters, that spewed for nearly a year and dumped way more into the Gulf than I suspect this one ever will? We got exactly zero compensation out of that, because the well was Mexican rather than being ours. And with the advances in deepwater drilling, how long will it be before rigs can be operated (safely or otherwise) in non-territorial waters?

    As horrible as this is, I still do not think that calling for a complete halt is the better answer. I think it's the equivalent of hiding our collective heads in the sand, and hoping that it'll just go away if we ignore it. It won't. And if we think that stopping all drilling in US-controlled waters will prevent anything like this from happening again, again I'd point back to Ixtoc 1. At least with this one, we can bring the pressure of government, and yes, the American consumer as well, to bear on the company.

    June 6, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. changing climate

    why all the semantics? it is in the pass, it is in the gulf, it is in gulf breeze, it is pensacola beach, it is in ft. walton, is there a point, besides proving you might be smarter than people who don't know what countries adjoin the US?

    all of florida's beaches will be affected and our backwards biased news still hasn't reported how places like Tampa with desalinization plants to provide drinking water will be affected....

    why with all of the paper companies, monsanto, champion, scott, etc...getting bush era approval to bypass envir. regs and drain right into the gulf, all of a sudden rednecks are concerned...answer: rednecks and GOP don't give a cr*(P about environment, only about $$$$$ and their own pocketbooks, nothing has changed with these bozos; they just don't 'get it'....

    June 6, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. changing climate

    all of the 'blue' states should sue florida, miss. al, and LA with their drill baby drill bs as now their greed at all costs will affect all of us who are NOT responsible....and account for carbon footprint, use 100% green energy etc...in the South, Southern Co and Gulf Power and coal powered "energy' cos won't even help you save energy and won't diversify and won't tell you anything and treat you like a peon....they will NOT change unless obama makes them....

    Even in sprawling spread out car-centric society, it is poss. to boycott walmart, walk/bike to work; GOP doesn't care about anybody, and now tries to lump everybody in the same boat; go to pensacola beach any day and count hundred of suvs...yet nobody is capable of connecting the dots; we should all be looking to green energy and reversing the climate change happening NOW as climate will be affected a hundred years AFTER we stop putting sh(%$ in it....which is not happening and this is accelerating.....ban suvs for anybody who doesn't HAVE to have one; I couldn't give two sh&P about spoiled US auto industry and their dragging us down; we need green mfg. and we a strong govt. NOW to reverse decades of greed and pollution and me me me.....pendulum swings both ways, GOP lost, and if socialism is so bad, why is europe decades ahead of us in every single measure; their only mistake was trying to keep up with the US and its' globalization, leading to euro, etc. growth at all costs, well, we are experiencing the costs now....to crist, jindal, and all GOP etc..it is called karma...

    June 6, 2010 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
  7. changing climate

    GOP don't want change, they don't want solutions, they are obstructionist....as other posters said, despite bush atrocities, obama can never please those bozos....no matter what he does; the most intelligent thing obama could do is STOP compromising, it is a sign of weakness to GOP...like a political commentator on sun. AM news said a while back, "obama had a clear mandate, he could have made italian the natl language if he wanted" but he 'compromised'....don't compromise...GOP will just bite you in the a$#...besides when 'tea parties' who have yet to state one goal at all, start influencing things, it will be yee haw and backslapping all the way to thirdworldville....and if you have any education or common sense, you are an "elitist"....

    June 6, 2010 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ted

    "There was an immediate response by our government."

    keep drinking the kool-aide buddy! Obama sat on his azzz and ignored local politicians requests too long...just like how he ignored arizonas requests for help for so long...this bama guy is not the leader america needs in a crisis (or two).

    June 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. changing climate

    how many are all of sudden volunteering their time to save their livelihoods?? how many have donated for years and years to envir causes and lived in an envir. responsible manner and have families and friends affected all of sudden by disaster who still don't 'believe' in climate change and drive around in giant bloatmobiles and doing everything poss. to stop progress in this country???? but now we are all together???? it is sad nobody ever learns anything in this country.....how soon we forget everything...climate change led to massive historical flooding in many states, RI, CT, TN, etc...and this is ongoing, there are massive unheard of wildfires right now in northern Alaska, directly due to wasteful profligacy...and rednecks don't learn, I have to get poisoned every day by suvs who idle incessantly speed through school zones, treat the world like a giant trash can and now we are all supp. to sing kumbayah and 'come together' when nothing will change...get real. we are third world now because our govt. won't grow a pair. bottom line....and the longer we wait to be proactive, the less you are going to like the 'big govt' which is coming.

    and if you think bp will pay a dime, you are mistaken....they are already pulling a bush, since day one...first oil will rise to surface so no need to see all oil underwater, then put dispersant to hide the oil, so it will disperse, but if it automatically rises as idiot bp ceo says repeatedly, why poison us even more with toxic dispersant unless you are hiding magnitude of spill??? conservatives don't believe in science, so why not allow scientists to come in and measure spill??? you won't believe it anyway!!!!!

    conservatives never "volunteered' during massive algal blooms, red tide, jellyfish swarms from big ag, paper, etc..draining right into the Gulf poisoning everybody....which was already leading to massive 'dead zone' in gulf BEFORE the spill.....

    I would like all the gov. to admit climate change, ban suvs, raise emissions, sign climate bill and we can all 'volunteer' to clean up your mess.....

    June 6, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. changing climate

    drill baby drill

    June 6, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thompson Trivet

    Vince, get your head out of your a$$. Obama got caught sleeping at the weel on this issue, and the Illegal Imigrant issue. This guy doesnt seem to care about America, just his own agenda.

    June 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. The South Blows

    No big deal Florida is the rectum of the US anyway.

    June 6, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • inbred

      valid point

      June 6, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mango

      Whats that about.. Thats pretty rude..

      June 6, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Carol

    Would booms have prevented these tar balls from reaching the shoreline? Couldn't there be some type of net system used to collect these off-shore and then let a skimmer ship go by and retrieve the tar balls and lay out a secondary boom line while the first one is cleaned? I would imagine the factories that make these booms would have enough time (30+) days to ramp up their operations and double/triple their output. Anyone know?

    June 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mango

    This is so sad, I am from the P-cola area... There are so many people that fish to feed there family, I know my father had to when I was young, and the only time I have with my father is when we are fishing, Very shortly we wont be able to that together anymore.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Robert

    Ft Walton Beach, Florida - no oil on the beach yet. I was on the beach today building sandcastles and playing the in surf with my son. We are about 30 miles east of Pensacola.

    June 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
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