Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF team finds no oil off Panhandle beaches

ST. PETERSBURG — This summer, when every wave washing ashore in the Florida Panhandle carried tar balls or gooey globs, scientists said they feared the oil would also bury itself in sediments just offshore and continue showing up for months or years afterward.

Now they're saying that may not happen after all.

Scientists with the University of South Florida who took samples off the Panhandle's hardest-hit beaches last month reported Thursday that they found "no visually identifiable oil" there. And when they dug into the sediment offshore, they found "no visible buried oil" either, their report says.

As a result, their report says, "we believe that it is unlikely that significant amounts of new oil from the nearshore will be washed onto the beach during storms."

But that doesn't guarantee that the beaches will remain oil-free when the storms hit. USF geologists found that even on beaches that had been cleaned by crews hired by BP, oil still lurked just below the surface, usually 6 inches to a foot down.

As a result, the study says, "erosion of buried beach oil and subsequent redistribution is expected during storms."

Thursday's report was produced by a team led by geologist Ping Wang. They surveyed an area that stretched from Gulf Shores, Ala., east to the eastern end of Santa Rosa Island between Sept. 23 and 27.

Divers collected 60 sediment cores and 60 surface sediment samples just off the beaches in waters 9 to 45 feet deep. Samples also were collected in areas such as Pensacola Bay and Perdido Bay, which suffered some of the brunt of the oil contamination in Florida this summer.

Further laboratory tests are being conducted to look for further hydrocarbon contamination, which often can be invisible and is detected only through sophisticated laboratory tests, USF officials said.

USF team finds no oil off Panhandle beaches 10/07/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 7, 2010 9:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant


    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and similar events, saying they are inappropriate could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]
  2. What major sporting event could Tampa Bay land next?

    Lightning Strikes

    We are on quite a roll as a community. First, we had a Super Bowl drop from the storm clouds into our lap. It just reaffirms the fact that Tampa Bay is great at lap. And Monday it became official: Next year's NHL All-Star Game will be held at Amalie Arena. The best in the world will be here to shoot and score. And …

    MVP Wayne Gretzky is congratulated at the 1999 NHL All-Star game, the last time the event was in Tampa Bay. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times file]
  3. How the 2018 NHL All-Star Game reflects Jeff Vinik's vision for Tampa

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — There were several reasons the NHL announced Monday that Tampa will host the 2018 All-Star Game on Jan. 28.

    This was the  logo for the 1999 NHL All-Star game played Sunday, Jan 24, 1999 at the Ice Palace in Tampa Bay. (AP Photo)
  4. Photo gallery: Nation pays respects to America's war dead on Memorial Day

    Human Interest

    At Memorial Day ceremonies in Tampa Bay area and around the country, Americans paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.

    Eight-year-old Piper St. Jean, of Tampa, uses a brush to clean the grave of her grandfather, Henry St. Jean, who served with the United States Air Force during the Korean and Vietnam wars. at Curlew Hills Memory Gardens on Monday moments after the conclusion of their 31st annual Memorial Day Service on Monday (5/23/17) in Palm Harbor. The event featured guest speakers, live choral performances by the Palm Harbor United Methodist Church choir and live music by Bones South, an area trombone ensemble with rhythm section. On Saturday local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops placed flags on veterans???‚??„? graves prior to the event. This is an annual tradition of Curlew Hills' Memorial Day services and helps the Scout troops achieve merit badges. The event is free and the public is invited to attend.
  5. Protest sparks Texas lawmaker threats of gun violence


    AUSTIN, Texas — Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas' tough new anti-"sanctuary cities" law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense …