ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – As work continues on one of the biggest tar mats discovered on Alabama’s beaches, word tonight the deep clean of the coast in Orange Beach maybe coming to a close.
“Hopefully they are going to be out of here before Christmas,” says orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon.
Using tractors, back hoes and machines invented just for this purpose, BP started digging deep into the sand to remove oil covered by sand and surf two months ago.
“It makes us all feel very good. It is important to our coming summer season that we were able to market our beach without equipment on it,” says Kennon.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management will start testing the sand next week. According to Chief Field Operations Officer Steve Jenkins that means, no visible oil, no tar balls, beaches just like they were before the oil spill. But that won’t be the final word, that will come from the city of Orange Beach.
“I’m not ready to sign off on anything until I know and my folks can tell me the beaches are as clean as we can possibly get it, then we will consider signing off,” says Kennon.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be episodes of tar balls. Kennon would like to see teams on standby for the next three years to clean up tar balls he says ‘will’ come ashore. But for now, at least the first phase of the deep clean seems to be coming to a close. And Alabama’s beaches are closer to being oil free.
Kennon has requested another million dollars from the BP block grant given to the state. The money will be used to make sure a proper post clean up evaluation is done. Deep cleaning operations will continue in Gulf Shores, Fort Morgan and Dauphin Island.