While British Petroleum (BP) engineers step up their efforts to plug a gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, skimmers at western Florida Panhandle are bracing up to collect two oil plumes from the Deepwater Horizon spill before it strikes the shore.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection said that one of the patchy oil plumes was as close as 3 miles of Pensacola Pass, which is situated just next to a stretch of the Gulf Islands National Seashore and the tourist hotels of Pensacola Beach.
According to the DEP, another slick was heading towards the panhandle and was almost 9 miles away. The DEP revealed that the plume was about 2 miles wide and stretched in area of 40 miles. Strong winds are blowing the oil plumes towards the shore, noted the DEP. It also warned that the strong winds had increased possibilities of tar balls and contaminated crude washing up on beaches. The patches are likely to strike the shore by the next week.
“There’s a fear in the pit of the stomach and it won’t go away and it’s invading the life, the soul, of everybody in Pensacola,” said Donna Self of Anniston, Ala., who was visiting Pensacola Beach with friends Sunday. “You can just feel the tension just building every day, getting stronger and stronger. And I don’t even live here, and I feel it because I love the beach so much.”
The Florida government today ordered to close the area to the harvesting of saltwater fish, crabs and shrimp. The ban covers state waters along 23 miles of coastline in Escambia County, extending 9 miles into the Gulf.