Monday, April 4, 2011

BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical |

BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical "BP ends deep-cleaning operation; mayor relieved, activist skeptical"

Originally Published by The Mobile Press Register

MOBILE, Ala. -- BP PLC officials said Friday that they have moved all their deep beach-cleaning equipment and personnel from Alabama’s shoreline in time for the tourist season.
BP workers will continue to monitor the beaches and will keep equipment staged nearby to clean any oil or tar balls that wash ashore, company officials said in a news release.
Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon said the shift brings with it a sense of relief.
“It’s time to get back to normal and get BP out of our hair,” Kennon said. “It’s time for us to get back to doing what we do well, and that’s entertain our guests.”
Kennon said the sand in Orange Beach is as clean as it ever has been, and good weather over the past month has helped draw large crowds.
Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the beaches the public can access on the island are clean. But the west beach, on the other side of the Katrina Cut project, is only about 35 percent clean. BP had to leave it alone because of bird nesting season, but will finish the deep clean there in the fall, Collier said.
Clean enough?
A mid-February federal report indicated that in most areas across the four states most affected by the spill, cleanup operations had already removed as much oil as was practical from shorelines. The report argued that in some cases, further cleaning would do more harm than good from an environmental perspective.
But Casi Callaway, executive director of Mobile BayKeeper, said she doesn’t understand how BP can say it’s done with deep cleaning.
She said that she visited the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge last week. The beach looked beautiful from far away, she said, but when she got close to the water, she saw small tar balls everywhere.
“I want this to be over more than anybody,” she said, “but the oil is not gone. We’re going to have tar balls every day, probably for the rest of our lives.”
BP spokesman Justin Saia said the level of personnel and equipment staged for the beach monitoring will fluctuate depending on need. The company said in a written statement that at the peak of its deep-cleaning operation, it had more than 1,300 workers and 370 pieces of heavy equipment on Alabama’s shoreline.
Collier said he just wants the workers to be on the beach early.
“We need them out there at sun-up to take look at beaches, clean up anything they find and get off the beach before the public gets there,” Collier said.

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