Oil Spill Tar Balls on Orange Beach

Oil+Slick+Reaches+Queensland+Beaches+YVrC94OAU06lOrange Beach It’s hard to beat the white sands and rolling dunes of the “Redneck Riveria” in southern Alabama.  It’s Alabama, but once you cross the bridge at the Pass to the East you are only 2 or 3 miles from the small sign that says “Florida” at the western tip of the Panhandle.  The Alabama state park system has done a good thing through this gorgeous stretch and taken control of miles of beach and acres of sand between the South Beach Wannabe Condo developments sprouting in between.

50 degrees feels colder than it should along the water, but the sun was bright and the waves rolling, so a walk on the beach was mandatory early Sunday morning.  Walking along it was surprising in the quiet to see something that looked like stick figure humans east towards the Pass.

Coming closer it turned out to be 8 or 9 men in chartreuse vests and one woman in a Tyvek suit with 4 WD buggies including a tractor pulling two porta-potties .  All of them were waving long necked nets towards the water’s edge.  I asked them what was up.

The foreman said they were picking up tar balls washing up from the British Petroleum oil spill that went on endlessly during the summer.  I had to take off my sunglasses.  It wasn’t easy to spot them.  Their nets were hardly 1/3rd filled as they poked the water in a desultory fashion.

How long will you be out here on the state park beach?  “As long as it takes until we get it all,” he replied in a matter of fact tone.

“It looks pretty good at this point,” I offered, “so you must be making progress.”

He replied, “It’s better than it was.”

Months ago and months to go, the cleanup is off of the headlines, but here on Orange Beach far to the east of the spill, every day is still filled with the workaday tasks of the picking tar balls out of the Gulf at the water’s edge.

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