Uncovering the Secret in the Sand – Buried Oil Remains After Cleanup, Bob Serata for the National Wildlife Foundation, January 20, 2011:
Many of the oil-fouled beaches along the Gulf coast and barrier islands have been scoured, scraped, raked and filtered clean. Tourist beaches and beaches in front of high-rise condominiums along the Florida panhandle and eastern shores of Alabama are spectacularly white again.
But dig two feet below the pristine surface and a tarry, brown surprise awaits you — you’ve struck oil.
“Oil was coming ashore and was transported down into the sand by natural hydrodynamic processes, then trapped in the sand,” said Dr. Joel Kostka an environmental microbiologist and microbial ecologist at Florida State University (FSU). ...
So the restoration process is not just a matter of having clean, white sand beaches. Buried oil can contaminate ground water. Chemicals can infiltrate fresh water aquifers. Toxic compounds can be flushed back to the Gulf, killing fish and crustacean larvae. Lingering oil is a threat to wildlife and ecosystems because it can plug water flow that cleanses and enriches shoreline communities.
Read the report here.