FORT MORGAN, Alabama – BP’s clean up of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach took a matter of weeks to finish. That will not be the case for the five miles of beaches in the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge. Clean up there will go for some time and even when it’s done, oil will most likely still be left behind.
The Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge is unlike any other place in Alabama.
“Behind me here you can see that there are gulf beaches that transition into these beautiful massive dunes and finally maritime forest and fresh water well is behind it,” says manager Jereme Phillips.
Eight months ago, in June, this five miles of shoreline saw some of the heaviest oiling from the Deepwater Horizon and much of it is still here. “We are asking BP to clean up as much oil as they can but using techniques that are less invasive and that are appropriate for a national wildlife refuge.”
That means sensitive areas will only be cleaned by hand crews removing tar balls with nets. Tractors pulling beach rakes will do the majority of the work but only cleaning the top layer of the beach in certain areas.
The Beach Techs are the only mechanical equipment you will see on the refuge. Heavier equipment is not allowed.
Snowbirds Greg and Nancy Steffen have watched the clean up from Orange Beach to Fort Morgan. “I think it’s unending. We’ve walked the beaches in other areas and they go by cleaning it up and right after them it gets washed up again.” Nancy agrees, “I don’t think they should ever sign off on BP cleaning it up because it is going to last forever.”
While it may seem it will never end, Phillips is hopeful. “It’s gradually recovering but its going to be a lengthy process.”
The refuge has drawn criticism for the slow clean-up but Phillips says they will take the time they need to do it right.