EXCLUSIVE: Continuing Impacts of BP Oil Spill

EXCLUSIVE: Continuing Impacts of BP Oil Spill

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In February with the wind howling out of the north and a trip to the beach was less than appealing, four, two-man crews were out every day, walking the beaches and picking up tar balls.

News 5 was with the crews as they surveyed 32 miles of coastline collecting what is washing up four years after the the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The search for oil on Alabama beaches is not limited to the gulf side. On the bay side of Fort Morgan significant amounts of oil wash up on a daily basis.

"It is the responsibility of the parties that put the oil there to be involved with the clean up of it," says city of Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown.

According to the report by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management more than 200 instances of oiling was reported to the Coast Guard during that four week period. Almost four hundred pounds of tar were removed. "It's fairly astounding the number of pounds and the size of some of the material that's coming up," says Marine Resource Manager Phillip West in Orange Beach.

Crews surveyed Alabama beaches all the way from Fort Morgan to Orange Beach. The beaches are divided into 89 segments. Oil was found on every segment and not just once, once they cleaned it up, it would come back.

"If we don't continue to clean this up over the years it will get buried in the sand and eventually start coming back to the surface and it's not right," says Brown. "It needs to be continually cleaned."

Since being taken out of the "active" response last July, the only ones looking for tar on Alabama beaches is a hand full of state and local folks with taxpayers footing the bill. "It's not the responsibility of the citizens to continue to do that. It's the responsible party that should be on the hook to monitor this and continue to clean this up," says Brown.

What can't happen, according to West, is for tar to continue to wash up and get covered up instead of being cleaned up. "Then it's a surprise for you later and that's not good."

Two things the report seems to confirm; the presence of off-shore tar mats, that's why the re-oiling occurs and in the case of the coastal communities, the system in place to reportoiling'ss has not been effective.

Since last summer, it's been up to the public to report any tar washing ashore through the National Response Center. The Coast Guard would respond, make sure it is BP oil and then the tar was cleaned up. But with such a transient population in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach there are very few reports to the N.R.C.

What folks in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach hope is this report will help build a case for long term funding for monitoring and cleaning up the beaches with BP footing the bill instead of local taxpayers.

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