Beach Clean Up Matrix
Limits to Gulf of Mexico oil spill beach cleanup supported by new scientific report
Limits on the cleanup of remaining oil from the BP Macondo oil spill on beaches near habitats of endangered and protected species along the Gulf of Mexico are justified, because too much cleaning could endanger those resources, according to a report released Friday by the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center.
The report was prepared by a science advisory team for Coast Guard Capt. Lincoln Stroh, who is serving as federal on-scene coordinator for the BP oil spill cleanup.
“Nothing in this report is really changing what we’re doing,” said Lt. Commander Kenneth Boda, leader of the team and an oceanographer normally assigned to the Coast Guard’s Office of Strategic Analysis in Washington, D.C. “It verifies that our approach to shore treatment is scientifically valid.”
The study outlines the trade-offs faced by cleanup workers in one of three coastal habitat types — natural beaches with sensitive ecosystems — where remaining oil from the spill is still being found.
Not addressed by the report’s recommendations are cleanups occurring in wetlands and “amenity” beaches used by tourists.
Wetlands are more likely to be severely damaged by cleanup operations that can delay their recovery for years, the report said. Tourist beaches, often supplemented with new sand, can have their sands washed with little impact, it said.
But washing sand along stretches of beaches in wide areas of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida would also require the use of fine sieves that would remove seashell fragments and woody materials used by wildlife, it said.
The report focused on three different materials remaining from the spill:
- Oil residue buried below a six-inch beach surface layer near sensitive habitats, such as bird and sea turtle nesting areas or where the endangered Alabama beach mouse resides.
- Tiny fragments of tar balls left after beaches were mechanically or manually cleaned, which would require using seives to separate them from sand.
- And mats of submerged, weathered oil in the surf zone — the area of underwater troughs along the beach where waves crash that have proved difficult to locate and clean because the wave energy makes operations from shallow-draft boats difficult.
The scientists writing the report put together a matrix that weighed the toxicity of the oil remains and the likelihood of exposure to humans or wildlife against the potential impacts of the cleanup. The matrix was based on past scientific studies of other oil spill cleanups around the world and data sampled from beaches on Grand Isle in Louisiana; Petit Bois Island, Miss.; Bon Secour, Ala., and Fort Pickens, Fla.
The results found that environmental impacts of remaining oil found on or near beaches after cleanups of more obvious oil contamination are completed are relatively minor, and that more intense cleanups could pose greater environmental risk than leaving the residue in place.
Among the findings were that human health effects from short and long-term exposures to the remaining oil in cleaned areas were below established EPA benchmarks for concern. There’s minimal risk of oil leaching into groundwater from buried oil.
But it also found that shore birds that search for food in subsurface areas could ingest tarballs, and sea turtle eggs and young turtles could face increased risk from contact with buried oil. Both cases may require further study or monitoring.
The results are being used to determine which areas will continue to be targeted for cleanup, Boda said.
The report is not aimed at quantifying the impacts of the spill on the coast’s beaches, which is a task falling under the federal-state Natural Resource Damage Assessment process.
The Operational Science Advisory Team-2, which wrote the report, included represenatives of the Coast Guard, BP, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, and EPA. The report is available on the web at www.restorethegulf.gov.
editors note: so, they can’t clean the “residue” up. that residue was created by corexit thinning the oil. And, since all the oil has not reached the coastlines yet since it is submerged, oil will be coming to shore for years.
Bottom line, they are not going to clean up the oil. they are going to expose millions of visitors to a toxic environment by pumping millions of dollars worth of propaganda paid for by BP on America. All the Marketing Boards on the gulf coast now have millions of dollars from BP to lure you down.
BP is exposing as many people as possible to this toxic soup. When your kids come back from spring break sick, you will know why.
Here is an idea, instead of spring break, have johnny come home and help you plant a garden.