Microscopic Oil Particles Still Found on Panhandle Beaches

Panhandle beaches
Oil stains a Florida Panhandle beach last year
TAMPA (2011-3-3) -

Many beaches in Florida’s Panhandle and Alabama hit hard by the BP oil spill appear to have been cleared of tar balls and buried oil. But there appears to be some residual contamination.

There's good news and bad news from researchers looking at the impact of the oil spill on Florida's Panhandle. The good - you can't see any oil or stained sand on the Panhandle beaches. But the bad - there are still microscopic particles of oil under the surface, that can be seen only when exposed to ultraviolet light.

That's according to a new report from USF Coastal Research lab. USF Geologist Ping Wang says the long-term biological impact is not known at this point in time.

"There's still a considerable amount in the near-shore area that can be moved onshore by future storms," says Wang. "That's something we really should study and we should be careful to study and understand."

Most of the oil didn't hit the Florida beaches until late May, one month after the BP Deepwater Horizon blew out. A mechanical cleanup of the beaches was done over the winter, and appears to have cleaned most of the sand. That's good news, just in time for spring break.

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