Oil washes ashore in Florida

Residents of the US Gulf Coast braced for more oil from a ruptured BP Plc well to hit their beaches today as oil washed ashore at Panama City, a popular Florida tourist destination.

RTE News, 20 June 2010

The city’s beaches remained open after clean-up crews removed the tar balls from shore, authorities said.

Even so, the sight is a worry for a state with an annual tourism industry worth $60 billion.

‘The vast majority (of tar balls) disappeared with the tide. Our beaches are open and clean,’ said Valerie Lovett, spokeswoman for Florida’s Bay County.

The largest spill in US history threatens the coastal economies of four states including hard-hit Louisiana.

It has also severely dented the British energy giant’s finances and reputation and tarnished President Barack Obama’s popularity.

The White House criticized BP CEO Tony Hayward for taking time off from dealing with the leak’s consequences to watch a yacht race yesterday off the south coast of Britain.

BP said he was taking some much needed downtime.

To minimize the leak’s environmental impact, BP is capturing as much as 24,000 barrels (1.008 million gallons/3.81 million litres) a day of crude using two containment systems, but that is a fraction of the 35,000-60,000 barrels the US Coast Guard says is pouring from the well.

BP restarted its containment effort yesterday after one system was shut down for 10 hours to fix a technical issue and to let a storm pass.

It was the latest in a series of problems to bedevil attempts to halt the oil flow now in its 62nd day.

A second system remained running. BP’s long-term solution is to drill a relief well that will relieve pressure on the leak, thus stopping its flow, but that is not due for completion until August

Tom Sullivan