Crews working at Walton “hot spot”


Right before Christmas, BP cleanup crews returned to Walton County Beaches in large numbers as they follow SCAT (Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Techniques) reports.

The reports show an increase of petroleum product rolling onto some area beaches, especially in the Dune Allen and Topsail Hill Preserve shorelines.

“Those are hot spot areas,” said Randy Seward, BP liaison for Walton County. “It has something to do with the underwater topography…”

On Jan. 19, The Sun photographed a 60-man crew working on beaches behind the Santa Rosa Beach Club. A worker at the scene said they were looking for tar balls. County emergency managers said it was “normal operations” while the Coast Guard declined to discuss the operations saying only that the crew’s mission was accomplished.

Capt. Joe Preston, director for the county Emergency Operations Center, told The Sun recently that the increased presence of cleanup crews is part of an official push from local authorities to makes sure the beaches are free of oil product ahead of tourist season. The crews are digging down to make sure that tar balls beneath the sand will be removed before the spring breakers arrive.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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