ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – Drilling for oil on Alabama beaches. “We’re looking for sub surface oil,” says team leader Jason Howes with Polaris Applied Sciences. His team is drilling for oil and finding it.
“We start at the low water line and work up beyond the high tide line into the back shore. Over the crest of the berm is where we find some real thick accumulations,” says Howes.
Curiosity got the best of a family vacationing from Kentucky. “We were just wondering what in the world they were doing and they were cordial and were trying to find out how deep the oil had gone.” At first glance Jimmy Blackwell says he would not think there was any oil here. “You walk out here and you wouldn’t have no idea what’s going on. You think yeah theres a few tar balls on the edge of the water but after seeing the core drill oh yeah that was about a foot down. I’m amazed.”
Now the question, what to do about it? “What we’re doing now is giving operations the information they need so they can then apply the proper clean up techniques,” says Howes.
One of the options, the Sand Shark. It’s been busy in Florida but hasn’t touched the beaches in Alabama yet.
‘It will help get the job done it is not a silver bullet. It can clean down to two millimeters the screen size, very small tar balls can get a large percentage of those,” according to Coastal Resource Manager for the city of Orange Beach Phillip West.
Clean up crews use fish nets to sift the sand now but West says that will change when the weather does.
“It is still too hot to try and recover that material mechanically. You create more of a mess when you try to get it and break it up into even smaller bits and don’t recover much of it.”
The Sand Shark is expected to be on Alabama beaches in early October. Orange Beach and Gulf Shores say they are still on track to have their beaches in pre-spill conditions by January first.