The Emerald Coast Chapter of Surfrider Foundation has begun “on the ground” efforts to test their local Gulf beach waters in Florida for dispersants being used to ‘clean up the oil’ and oil. They have taken the approach to adapt SF’s Blue Water Task Force Program to specifically address this disaster. They have chosen to test because none of the agencies are testing for dispersants and they are not currently publishing the results of oil testing. The lack of information being shared with the public is a major health risk to both residents and tourists as tar balls wash up on these shores daily.
On Sunday there was a sheen in the waters as far east as Miramar Beach (Walton County) and multiple reports of health concerns, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, skin and eye irritations due to people entering the water. The Suncoast Chapter (St. Pete/Sarasota) and other Florida chapters may also initiate testing if the surface and underwater plumes sync with the loop current and make their way east and south.
As you might imagine due to the severity of this spill, this testing may be needed over an extended period of time. The cost for testing dispersants is about $350/per test and samples have to be shipped to a lab in Washington state. Oil testing is about $80/per sample. Surfrider’s Emerald Coast chapter is directly impacted by the spill and could use help in getting the word out and/or by making a donation to this campaign.