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. Joe Moran

    Attention, editor:

    Gulf Breeze, FL is not on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico as shown in the picture accompanying this article. That is Pensacola Beach, FL. Gulf Breeze adjoins Pensacola Bay and Santa Rosa Sound.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • pwoody22

      Gulf Breeze is part of the Gulf of Mexico thus GULF breeze. Jeez. I have lived here my entire life. We are definitely part of the Gulf of Mexico.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • pwoody22

      You do realize that Pensacola Beach is in Gulf Breeze?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heavy1

      Woody, you've lived in Gulf Breeze your whole life and you don't realize that Pensacola Beach and Gulf Breeze are two separate towns located in two separate counties separated by Santa Rosa Sound??? Gulf Breeze doesn't have any shores that directly border the Gulf of Mexico. Joe is correct – Gulf Breeze is surrounded by Santa Rosa Sound and Pensacola Bay.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Moran

      Back when I lived in Pensy, the Gulf Breeze city limits were at the foot of the toll bridge. Law enforcement at the beach was provided by the county sheriff's department, not the Gulf Breeze police. Has it changed?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cazart

      I love and miss PegLeg Pete's. And I weep for Pensacola Beach. But that picture ain't Gulf Breeze, I don't care what the USPS says.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe Moran

      Referring to the City of Gulf Breeze, FL website:

      The City of Gulf Breeze is located on the end of the Fairpoint peninsula in Santa Rosa County. Gulf Breeze is separated on the north by a three mile bridge across Pensacola Bay from the City of Pensacola and the south by the Bob Sikes Bridge over Santa Rosa Sound to Pensacola Beach.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heavy1

      I don't live there anymore, but I'm pretty sure there was a small Pensacola Beach town police dept. However, the thing is, Pensacola Beach is in Escambia County (just like Pensacola), but Gulf Breeze is in Santa Rosa County. So Gulf Breeze Police or Santa Rosa County Police wouldn't have jurisdiction in Pensacola Beach (and vice versa). I'm pretty sure Santa Rosa County had like a 99-year lease on Pensacola Beach that ran out a long time ago (1960s maybe?). When I lived in GB it sucked for the kids that lived on PB because they had to go to school in Pensacola (Escambia County) and drive right past the Gulf Breeze Schools.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Heavy1

      But I digress. That picture definitely is not in Gulf Breeze.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • dub-c

      Joe is correct. Pensacola Beach is Pensacola Beach, which is in Escambia County. Gulf Breeze is in Santa Rosa County and does not border the Gulf anywhere, only the sound and the bay. Google Maps is not always 100% correct. I learned that when giving directions to my wedding last year, which was on Pcola Beach. Peg Leg's corporate mailing address is indeed in Gulf Breeze, as there is no P.O. on Pensacola Beach. If you visit their website, you will see their physical address is indeed 'Pensacola Beach'.

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

      The oil doesn't care what the name of the beach is, what bridge separates one from the other, or what county it's in.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Carol

      Just like when the hurricanes hit (Ivan, Katrina) Pensacola was ignored and more emphasis put on the poorer states. Again now with the oil spill – Pensacola is ignored and the poorer states/counties get all the sympathy. I guess that is because Pensacolians know how to get up, brush off the "oil" and fix it themselves because they know no one is gonna come fix it for them. I'm proud and sad for Pensacola – always the redheaded stepchild but always able to help their own survive.

      June 5, 2010 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • RobGR

      How is it being ignored, Carol, when there is a news story about it and we are all talking about it? I doubt anyone ignores the environmental impact of this disaster.

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

      Pensacola Beach IS NOT in Gulf Breeze. In fact, Gulf Breeze has no Gulf shoreline. Gulf Breeze = Santa Rosa County. Pensacola and Pensacola Beach = Escambia County

      A Pensacola Native

      June 5, 2010 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • carmen

      its pensacola beach, not gulf breeze. it doesn't matter. we northwest floridians are all in the same boat. Peg Leg Petes is on Pensacola Beach FL in Escambia NOT Gulf Breeze however you drive through Gulf Breeze from Pensacola to get to Pensacola Beach and the county changes in the middle of the bridge.....but it really does not matter, whether you are a Breezer or a Pcolian....we are SCREWED!!!!

      June 5, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dorothy W.

      Why is this side-bar story being given first place in the comments? If one reads much further you get to intelligent comments with much more relevance to the tragic story unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico. Whether a town is part of this or that community makes no difference. All communities along the Gulf will suffer terrible damage from this disaster for years to come, no matter what is done.

      June 6, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      this story just proves two things.....A) CNN's shoddy reporting, B) Obama's shoddy handling of this crisis. For an adminstration that Obama claims has "been in charge since the beginning", they are admitting to the total incompetence in handling a crisis as a crisis instead of as a political opportunity to get photo ops.

      June 6, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dawn Thayer

      I made mistake by not leaving when the oppurtunity arrived, prior to a similar situation. I was confused and when I realized a way had arrived, I called to anounce I knew I blew it.
      I hope that good feeling will come to the Gulf Coast again, I know it will if we all count on each other.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


      June 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. markw

    Try stopping by my home state of Louisiana......lot's of chocolate for you to delite in

    June 4, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grafixer

      Mark, are there volunteers working there... or only BP and people they have contracted with? They have had training courses here in FL, and said no one would be allowed in a clean up area without having a certification from a BP course. Is that the case there in LA?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeHere

      Louisianna has had more than it's share of troubles & my heart goes out to you folks. Starting to get it here, in Pensacola now. We need to all stick together on this. God be with us all.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Beach lover

    Willy Wonka-there is a very special place in hell for people like you.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kmcalvanah

    This is nothing to laugh or joke about. That's the problem with "uneducated" people unless they live in the middle of this disaster they simple do not care.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • karena

      To say that unless you live in the area you do not care about this disaster is untrue. We live at least 900 miles from the disaster but have watched and worried about this horrible disaster. My son has even suggested we take our vacation there to help with the cleanup. I am sure there are many people in this country that are heartbroken about what the Gulf coast is going through and will go through in the future because of this oil spill.

      June 6, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Dr. Burton Sutherland

    How about inserting a pipe into the well pipe, the first of which contains 10 or so Air bags (Kevlar or ballistic rated) 15 feet apart in depth. Starting with the deepest inserted bag, expand the bags to conform to the internal pipe diameter, these can immediately expand to the well pipe internal diameter. The space between the air bags will have fluid that can act as a hydraulic buffer between bags and thereby assist in wall adhesion. When all the bags have been deployed, and the flow of product has ceased, the well can then be filled with cement.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • CABNY

      makes perfect sense and I was just thinking of a similar idea, but read my other post to see why they'll never plug it.

      June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • A geophysicst

      That is called a "packer" in the drilling biz. It wouldn't work because of the water overburden pressure and the pressure of the oil/gas mixture coming out of the well. You could never get the packer inserted into the well, let alone inflate it. On top of that, it is very likely that at least one of the hydraulic rams in the BOP is partially closed and thus obstructing the pathway no less than about 10-feet down the well.

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

      I agree with that idea... and help me out on this one.. would it be possible to insert some sort of material into the pipe that would polymerize underwater and fill that pipe up?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      Apparently pressure is so strong that an inflatable will not work at those depths and also with such high volume pressure coming from well. Numerous folks have submitted a similar idea to their site over the last few weeks.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • CABNY

      It would work if they anchor the device pushing the rod to the side of the pipe. There is no reason they cannot push a pipe down another pipe even with that much pressure. Also, instead of air, they can use water to inflate the balloons.
      They just don't want to plug it yet.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kenny Boy

      Great idea, genius. It's called "concrete", not "cement". Cement is the dry, powdery stuff used to MAKE concrete.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Grafixer

      The pressure at the pipe is enough to toss a tractor trailer like a toy. Do you think it will simply blow out your baggies?

      June 4, 2010 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kolin

      Perhaps we can start shoving BP executives in the well...

      June 4, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. James

    ...Also if Mr. Wonka is a young punk trying to get a rise out of everyone, then just wait until you get a job and are forced to pay for this disaster in exorbitant taxes. Or, just keep residence in your grandma's basement.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lora

      Taxes won't be paying for it. BP is responsible for the entire cost of cleaning it up.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kolin

      It is impossible for BP to make the victims of this disaster whole. They can pay for clean up, but are they paying the fishermen who are not able to feed their children, or restaurant owners, or how about the loss of vactationers and their funds? It will take years to see the total impact of this event, and in no way will BP have to pay for the loss in its entirety.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ChuckB

    Wonderful. Where is Crist? Hiding again like he has during the worst unemployment duration since I've lived here in FL.
    So BP, are you going to compensate the citizens of LA/MS/FL/AL and TX for loss of property value? If I wanted tar balls on my beach, I'd move back to NJ where I could re-live my youthful memories of beaches fouled from tanker bilges I say put Hayward and his Board of Directors (or whatever they call it in Britain) on a platform in the Gulf located at ground zero with a blue tarp for shelter from the sun until they cap it. Maybe then he'll stop worrying about having 'his' life back.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bleh

      What does it has to do with Christ??

      June 4, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      Charlie Christ is the governor of Florida. He isn't alking about Jesus.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chrissy

      Sorry....Charlie Crist

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

      Governor Crist was here in Pensacola on Thursday, June 3rd. Been here several times before that.

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

      Bleh: Not Christ, Crist. Many Americans are aware that Florida's governor is Charlie Crist, who has been in the national news a lot lately.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • 綱手- Penny

      Charlie Crist has been speaking to the media about the impending disaster, among other things. Just because you don't see him doesn't mean he isn't working on the issue. He may be in the disaster think tank that all states have now due to 9/11.

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

      Don't know where you are, friend. In Pensacola here & he was here yesterday & we've seen on television at least 3 times today. What exactly do you want him to do that he isn't doing? Specifically.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  8. CABNY

    BP will never plug the hole until they make sure they finish drilling the "Relief" wells first. If they plug the hole now, they may not be allowed to finish drilling the other wells, therefore no more profit from the gulf.
    If they really wanted to plug the hole, don't you think they have the means and equipment to do it already?

    June 4, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kolin

      You are absolutely correct. It's a numbers game. It is more profitable for BP not to fix the issue just yet. It's sick.

      June 4, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      Unfortunatly I believe it is truely not as easy as it sounds. The pressure behind that oil is enormous and at those depths most everthing would simply be crushed. As much of a PR nightmare as this is, in addition to the cleanup costs that BP will have to endure, they will loose HUGE amounts of money (think billions) over a well that might bring in a couple hunderd million dollars. I am sure if they could fix it, it would have been done by now.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve M

      You are absolutely correct..This entire fiasco continues to assure that the oil continues to flow...They cut the pipe directly above a bolted flange...Instead of cutting the pipe, cut the bolts and replace the top of the flange equipped with a shut off valve..It is plumbing 101..Don't think the American Gov't knows this? It's all about keeping the oil flowing! We are getting a classic Corporate and Goverment screwing here..The big question is what diversionary tactic will they throw-at-us? Iran? Time will tell!

      June 4, 2010 at 11:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mark C

      Get back on your meds.

      June 6, 2010 at 2:50 am | Report abuse |
    • mattski

      Dumb. How would sealing this wellhead prevent them from drilling another relief well? Do you think they want to re-use this wellhead? Not likely.

      June 7, 2010 at 8:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Californian

    My tears are for the gulf and all its residents of the air, water and earth, and also for the stomach sick horror I would feel if it were here. I am more sorry than I can say.

    June 4, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • LittleEagleServer77

      Thank you for your sentiments. I am sickened and saddened at this disaster and pray God will protect our beaches, wildlife, and sea life. I have always known drilling for oil in the Gulf was wrong, I just didn't speak up when I should have.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sab

    lets boycott bp

    June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • HD

      I have already started boycotting them.

      June 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoAnn

      So what other company are you going to use? Going to boycott all the companies that do offshroe drilling too? So, where are you going to gas up your car. Unless you're planning on not driving altogether. If so, I commend you for that. But then, are you going to boycott all petroleum derived products? LIke plastic? Like all those things found in this list here-> http://www.saveandconserve.com/2007/05/petroleum_based_products_a_long_list.html

      Good luck with your boycott!

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

      Boycott is a great idea. Just remember that BP owns / operates Arco and AM/PM. So, its not really "So Much Good Stuff!"

      June 5, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Oil can't kill me

      Those are franchise stores, you're only going to hurt the guy on main street that way

      June 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  11. planet3arth

    OK Guys here it goes; if we make a balloon out of thick, non-toxic rubber, and we send it deflated down into the oil well under the ocean's bed and then once there, we INFLATE it with air, the pressure will try and force the balloon out, therefore, clogging the hole, bec. the inflated balloon's diameter will be larger than... the diameter of the hole, so that will give them the opportunity to seal the whole thing (top kill??)...That's my idea, but I guess golf balls, human hair, broken tires and mud are better options...

    June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • CABNY

      Hey, human hair seems to work in my drain, why not here? lol

      June 4, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • curt

      the news is in on this b.s. about not knowing how much oil is coming out ..everybody knows it is the same amount or more than what they used to harvest on a daily basis ,,look at the log book and see how much they used to harvest every hour and times that by the hours it has been leaking ,,we dont need a harvard fluid dynamics professor to tell us this B.S. why do people belive the news anymore ,,??? and i dont know why we belive any politician ,,,lol drill baby drill ,,,and i thinkthey called it socialism to give money to people who lose there jobs no matter how they lose them ,,i quess people in manufacturing just dont matter ,,they can live on unimployment but not the people in the gulf ,,they are special and its not socialism if they get free money when they lose there jobs ..right ??? drill baby drill ,,,this country lost its mind !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      June 6, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scientist

      Won't work because of the EXTREME pressure at 5,000 feet below the surface. Do you realize that the "crush depth" for a nuclear attack submarine is only something like 2,500 feet? So if 2,500 ft will crush the hull of a nuclear sub, you will not be able to inflate a balloon at 5,000 ft. (BTW, this is why the Navy can't help in this crisis; naval equipment is not designed for the ocean floor),

      June 7, 2010 at 8:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. Californian

    What I said doesn't say what I mean, I'm stomach sick with horror for it being there too!

    June 4, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. kel

    Crist has been i Pensacola three time and is in New Orleans today, lets face it the oil wont stop til the relief well is finished, which won't be til August. The comment about tar babies you are a real a–

    June 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Used to be a Floridian

    Anyone who has ever stepped on a beach on the west coast of FL can appreciate the tragedy of oil washing up on the shores....this whole thing is sickening....big money has no regard, whatsoever, for the everyday working person. Big oil has destroyed Louisiana and is moving to destroy the whole Gulf. Shame on us for standing by and allowing the Gov't. to run amuck with Big oil....anyone pulling into a BP station now should have his/her head examined....but, watch what happens – BP will file bankruptcy and leave everyone hanging out to dry...and get away with their millions, scott free...SICKENING

    June 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elliott Peet

      I feel the only way to fix this is for every man, woman and child to go to the beach daily, and clean up the mess themselves... BP, along with all big-rig oil companies, tobacco manufacturers and McDonalds are too self-absorbed to care about catastrophes as this, as long as their name doesn't get in the paper... We need a life-style change

      June 4, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Les

    A giant wet/dry vac going into a tanker instead of a canister would be nice. I could care less if they get water in their friggin oil, we need to get the oil out of the water.

    June 4, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • marianne

      The oil is too dispersed according to the experts to vacuum it up efficiently. If it were easy to vacuum up then they would have already started the process. A smaller more concentrated spill is more appropriate for that type of operation.

      June 4, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
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