Updated: Friday, 03 Sep 2010, 9:07 AM CDT
Published : Thursday, 02 Sep 2010, 3:41 PM CDT
PENSACOLA BAY, Florida (WALA) - Dispersants were used to break up the leaking oil that was coming from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Test have been run to see if oil remains in the water column.
Thursday, the Coast Guard says two areas in Escambia County Florida have tested positive for underwater oil. One is near Barrancas Beach with the other at Fort Pickens.
“Right now, the shoreline areas are being cleaned by shoreline clean up assessment teams. They are working diligently to clean those beaches," said Coast Guard Lt. John Garr.
But biologists say they are not surprised about the results.
"We do sometimes find there to be oil is right off sandy beaches, where oil can come in and pick up sand on the beach when it strands and move a little bit offshore into subtitle areas nearshore," said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration marine biologist Ruth Yender.
One of five ways biologists are testing for oil are by using pom pon sorbent material. It is thrown into the water and every 24 hours, it is pulled out.
If the material appears to have oil on it, a second boat comes to collect samples which are then sent to a lab for testing.
"The whole goal of the program is to seek, detect, delineate areas, and potentially recover any subsurface oil that might exist in the water or on the bottom sediment," said Garr.
Of the more than 5,000 tests conducted, the two cases in Pensacola are the only areas where crews have found underwater oil.
“Waters are safe. They are swimmable. Nothing has exceeded any health standard. So the beaches are safe, the waters are safe. So we are encouraged by the results that we have gotten back so far," said Yender.
Coast Guard leaders say they hope to have testing completed by October.
Testing is completed in Mississippi, almost done in Alabama, and in Florida, testing just started. No underwater oil issues have come up in Mississippi and Alabama. A different test is being conducted in Louisiana.