USF researchers: Ultraviolet tests show ‘contaminated' beach, Walton Sun, October 15, 2010:
A researcher for the University of South Florida Coastal Research Lab recently examined Walton County beaches under UV light and says they are “still contaminated” after the BP oil spill.
Rip Kirby, a graduate student, held a high-powered ultraviolet light over one stretch of beach, and it illuminated patches of what he says are “accumulation of petroleum product and dispersant.” He apologized for not taking samples sooner.
How contaminated is the beach?
“This beach is just as contaminated as the rest, I’m sorry,” Kirby said, adding, “I took the local government officials’ word that these beaches were not impacted and stopped my testing in Destin.”
Is this oil contamination natural or normal in the areas beaches?
Kirby said the samples match the “fingerprint” of the Deepwater Horizon spill and that the team is tallying “concentration levels.”
Most shocking of all?
When the group ventured over to survey Stallworth Lake’s* outflow [see below], the sand glowed bright orange, the color Kirby says indicates dispersant contamination.
How much of the beach is oiled?
[T]he oil...he says... is present all the way to the dune line but is not visible to the naked eye.
No officials would return calls to the Sun:
Walton County Emergency Operations Director Joe Preston did not return multiple calls from The Sun. Walton County Commissioners Cecilia Jones and Scott Brannon also did not return multiple calls. The Walton County Sheriff’s Office also did not return calls.
Why did he decide to test the beaches, even though officials said they were not impacted?
Kirby tested the sands in Walton County late last month at the request of The Sun in response to the communities’ mounting concerns regarding the condition of the beaches and inland waterways and what many say is the lack of response from local, state and federal officials.
* Stallworth lake is a coastal dune lake. "These lakes are a unique geographical feature and are only found in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and here in Walton County," according to the County's website.
Dispersant discussion at 3:00 minutes in