Will Gulf Beaches Be “Clean” for Spring Break 2011?


Among the many things BP promised to “make right” are the Gulf beaches that bring in millions of visitors – and dollars – every year. The oil giant has said all of those once-pristine beaches will be good to go for the upcoming spring break. But preparing for the hordes of college students and other beach partiers makes for a slow-motion race in places like the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, a wild area covering 7,000 acres including 3.5 miles of beaches.

The Press-Register in Mobile is taking a look at progress there, and notes without comment that the supervisor leading the PR visit is “… a retired Coast Guard officer,” and you can bet there are plenty of former Guard folks finding employment in BP-related efforts these days.

According to Register reporter Dave Helms, there is much work still to be done: “The 140 crew members for Task Force 1 — covering a territory from Mobile Street to the tip of the Fort Morgan peninsula in south Baldwin County — are removing between 4,000 and 8,000 pounds of oil waste per day, seven days a week.”

Although there are plenty of other beach areas that cleanup workers are scouring, the Bon Secour refuge presents a unique challenge. It is one of the last remaining intact, non-developed dune ecosystems in the country, so workers there don’t use the heavy machinery, like the “Sand Shark,” they use on mainland beaches.

It’s certainly slow going – and the arrival of colder weather and stiff winds isn’t helping the situation.

Will BP meet its goal to make it right by spring break? We shall see. The Gulf Coast certainly needs the tourism dollars, which many area businesses are counting on to survive.

Check out the Press-Register story here: http://blog.al.com/live/2010/12/oil_cleanup_slow_careful_in_bo.html

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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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