ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – “To see this beach when the oil first hit and to see it now its come a long ways.” But is it clean? Thomas Martin is trying to find out. “We’re just checking behind BP making sure the oil and everything is clean through the sand.”
Using an auger this crew drills five holes, starting at the surf line and working up the beach. The holes are four feet deep and10 to 12 inches in diameter. They are looking for what are called “lenses” of oil, a line in the wall of the hole that would indicate oil.
“Checking all parts of the beach. Checking to see if they didn’t move it from one part to another and making sure they are getting the job done,” says Martin.
To make sure the beaches and the sand are indeed clean it will be more than just the city of Orange Beach and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management taking a look.
“I hate to say everything is fine until I know I have the data in my hand,” says Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon. So the city is putting together a panel of scientists from major universities and research centers from around Alabama. “It will be more than just looking at what we’ve done it will be those guys putting a scientific program together to be able, for them, to say everything looks good,” says Kennon.
While the makeup of the panel is still being determined, Thomas Martin continues to drill holes. But it’s not the sand or the beaches that have him concerned. “It’s what’s out there. What’s in the gulf that’s going to come ashore next hurricane. Something people oughta look into. I don’t know how we clean it exactly, I think that’s the next step. How we get it out of the gulf.”