July 4th Oil Spill Forecast for Panama City Beach

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by July 2, 2010 • 28 comments

With torrential rain and huge surf all week from the late hurricane Alex, spending time outside this week was almost as impossible as it was on the insanely hot days of last week.  With that, minimal oil product has been reported or needing to be cleaned up on the beach in the last two weeks.  The beaches have remained clean, and what product that has come ashore has been cleaned up within hours.  Not once has landfall been that to where beach closure was warranted.

Easterly and southeasterly winds have continued to keep the plume away from us.  As of right now, we are not within the NOAA projected 72 hour of uncertainty.  This is good news for those that are wanting to come down for the Annual Fourth of July Celebrations that take place at Pier Park every year.  At this point, all Florida beaches are open, and the beaches in Panama City Beach are looking amazing.

At this point, more than 300 personnel are walking the beach continuously during the day patrolling for oil with around 30 workers working at night.

Rough seas have kept workers from working on the booming system being installed in the pass. From Bay County:

Thursday was the project’s eighth day, and Schnell said that despite the delays, he still believes the 24-day build out is still attainable.

“We’re still working toward that July 16 completion date,” Schnell said. “We’re striving to meet that.”

A total of 15 pilings have been placed thus far.

Meanwhile, though, work continues at Port Panama City on fusing the plastic high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe that will be attached to the pilings to act as boom. Schnell said that as of mid-day Thursday, some 500 feet had been fused.

In the middle of the channel, a 400-foot hinged boom gate will allow for opening or closing the pass and diverting the oil products to the sides, where skimming vessels will be used on either side of the project to collect oil.

The hinged boom in the center of the pass will allow boat traffic to come and go with the outgoing tide and will be closed to traffic with the incoming tide, if oil is actively being removed from the area. The gates will remain open if oil is not a threat to the bay.

From NOAA:

Onshore winds (SE/S) are forecast through next week, with speeds decreasing from approximately 20 knots Wednesday to 11–14 knots by Saturday. These strong onshore winds will continue to move the northern edge of the slick northwest, threatening the barrier islands of Mississippi/Alabama and the Florida Panhandle west of Freeport, Florida. The Chandeleur Islands, Breton Sound, and the Mississippi Delta also continue to be threatened by shoreline contacts. To the west of the Delta, these winds may bring oil ashore between Barataria Bay and Caillou Bay – any remaining floating oil may be moved quickly to the west due to the development of a strong westward coastal current in this region.

From the Florida DEP:

A 5-15 knot east winds will continue today across the northern-central gulf but will increase to 10-20 knots Saturday through Sunday. This in addition to a 40-60% chance of rain and 3-5 foot seas may hamper some oil recovery efforts both onshore and offshore through the weekend. A predominant east wind and ocean current flow will push the oil plume westward and NOAA trajectories continue to predict impacts across the western panhandle mostly near Pensacola Bay through Sunday. Offshore, no significant amounts of oil are within or moving towards Eddy Franklin and there is no clear path for oil to enter the Florida Straits


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1 Rob July 4, 2010 at 12:10 pm

What a mess. Tar balls all over!


2 Richard July 4, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Why are the oil spill workers not able to comment on what they are finding? I tried 2 speak to several and they said they were not able to comment.


3 Jon July 5, 2010 at 7:40 am

As a former oil spill clean up worker, I can answer your question.

There are certain people who are assigned the job of talking to the media. If that oil spill worker is not supposed to be speaking to a news reporter that worker will be terminated immediately. That includes the general public.

The workers are being paid very well to be out there. It seems like a silly thing to be fired for but after going through the training, I understand.

In case, you wanted to know, I quit. I was told I would be terminated if I wanted to work less hours for school later in the fall. 12hrs a day. 7 days a week is the job requirement. At the time they wanted me to drive to Destin everyday and be there at 5am. They didn’t tell me where the clean up site was until AFTER I did my 2 day training class.


4 Jason Koertge July 4, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Rob, no tar balls have been reported, care to share some pictures of what you are talking about?

Richard, no idea why it was coming from the top down for the workers not to comment. I was given quite a hard time a couple weeks ago with my questions I was asking. The “supervisor” I was talking to said he was a local, that he worked for an environmental cleanup company locally and usually doesn’t work here, but this time his project was in his backyard. He said he was as frustrated as I was in that he couldn’t tell me anything but that he could lose his job.

This is my first run in with this type of industry, not sure if this is the industry standard, but I read Friday that BP had given direction to all the workers that they couldn’t indeed talk to people that asked them questions.


5 Rob July 4, 2010 at 11:42 pm

Go to St Andrews S.P. and you will see the tar balls. Jason: Quit sugar coating everything like all is well. It isn’t and won’t be for the forseeable future. I am no condo owner from Myrtle Beach, but a condo owner from PCB. Face reality people. We are all in this.


6 Jason Koertge July 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Sorry Rob, you’re wrong man. I was at the state park the other day and found nothing.

Not sugar coating anything, just telling it like it is, unlike some others that are trying to over-glitz what has had hardly any environmental impact on us as of yet.

I’m not saying we won’t ever see more than what we have, but I am telling you that what we’ve seen so far is a drop in the bucket compared to some, and VERY recoverable.


7 James D. July 7, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Is that “could” or “could not”?? — The verdict from the P.R. folks to ALL media was that there were NO restrictions on speaking with media types and the public as well.

However, it appears interpretations of “the rules” vary widely — much like encounters with TSA agents from one airport to another. Witness the following video from an incident up in Pensacola Beach last month:


Seems like what Jason and others have encountered is unfortunately common with many of those BP has hired. They said there’s no restrictions on speech, but in reality it couldn’t be further from the truth!


8 poolside July 4, 2010 at 10:07 pm

“Rob” must be a condo owner from Myrtle Beach… he’s trying to scare tourist away from PCB. Don’t listen to “Rob”… because he will “rob” you of a great beach vacation!!


9 Mark July 4, 2010 at 10:37 pm

People seem to get very upset when I ask this, but…Who is testing the water to make sure there aren’t high levels on benzene and other invisible toxins that are found in oil or dispersant.?

I’m not trying to sabotage anyone or anything…I just want to know if anyone is testing the water for these chemicals.


10 jeff wallace July 5, 2010 at 3:49 am

to whom it may concern : we are a family from nashville , and we dont give a crap about tar balls , sheen or whatever else have you . we got HEART , we vist pcb every summer and aint nothing changing our ways . we got money to spend and we love pcb , we will be there 1st week of august , we are spending the last week of july in disneyworld then coming to pcb . like so many others with heart and love for pcb we will support this city , beach , area til we die .my kids know how much we love pcb at the age of 6 and future generations , so look out here we come . hey jason , keep up the good work brother .


11 Jason Koertge July 7, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Thanks man. I think your vacation will be great.


12 Mark July 5, 2010 at 6:54 am

Jeff… I doubt anyone loves PCB as much as I do, but I do value the health of my kids even more.


13 Robert Stevens July 5, 2010 at 8:59 am

The oil has been going west for two weeks now . . . . we have a condo at Treasure Island and as of this weekend virtually nothing. Please check the link below, which shows were the ‘most’ of the oil is.



14 Rielle July 5, 2010 at 11:34 am

Mark, there’s no health advisory’s up for PCB. The beaches are still open for public use! My family and I are coming down july 18th-23rd and staying at the sunrise, and from what the maps say, the oil isnt even near panama. The clean up crews seem to be doing a great job, so instead of being pessimistic about the whole ordeal, lets have faith that those in charge of the clean up will do a great job and keep our beaches beautiful!


15 Madge July 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Looking at Robert’s map http://ocg6.marine.usf.edu/~liu/Drifters/latest_roms.htm it would appear that PCB may well escape most of the oil spill. Let’s hope so, while praying for those in its path.


16 jeff wallace July 6, 2010 at 3:26 am

i didnt say the children would be in the ocean , but i will . have faith brother mark , and support pcb , there is no other place like it , not myrtle beach or virginia beach , there is only 1 pcb.


17 Rehagen July 6, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Stay strong PCB… Me and my family will be down this weekend to have a great vacation !!! See ya then !


18 MARK July 7, 2010 at 10:09 am

Just got back from PCB last night (was there from 6/27-7/6) didn’t see one tarball-we stayed at the Majestic which I would say pretty well is in the middle of the beach. What I did see though was some pretty stupid people-double red flag means stay out of the gulf-the sherriff flew over numerous times in a helicopter and hovered until people got out of the water-the beach patrol was blowing there whistle constantly to get people out of the water and finally they sent a plane with a banner to stay out of the water. The result I was told 4 people had drowned with one in critical condition-I witnessed the beach patrol that went out to save a life and when they got in several thousands of people gave them a great round of applause-I haven’t ever seen anything like this in my life but have to say great job PCB beach patrols and sherriff dept. for a job well done-just sorry some didn’t listen.


19 Marianne July 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Mark, why were they trying to get people out of the water?


20 Jason Koertge July 7, 2010 at 4:22 pm

Double red flags mean the water is closed. Conditions that lead to double red flags include high surf, strong under currents and strong rip-tides. Double red flag conditions can be deadly.


21 Marianne July 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Oh. Thanks Jason. I was afraid it was due to something oil-related. What a tragedy.


22 jamnolfin July 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

21 Marianne July 7, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Oh. Thanks Jason. I was afraid it was due to something oil-related. What a tragedy.

That is insane. Do you really think theres the possibility of 4 people dying in the water because of the oil that isnt even here? The only thing killing anything around here is CNN.


23 oil worker July 11, 2010 at 2:03 am

There no oil here as of yet. I no first hand. I patrol these beaches multiple times a day for it. Workers are told to not talk while on clock. There’s no threating of termination or that crap. Its a rumour. I’ve been working it for two months. The biggest problem we have is citizens being very rude n offensive to me n fellow contractors. Setting traps like fish string n digging huge holes so we can’t drive our rtvs n stuff down to watch for oil. There’s no conspiracy no oil no smell no problems. We are trained n ready to keep the beaches clean. N we will. There’s no illegals here ether. The company I work for has 800 working nights shifts. Were all citizens and put the time in. Guys enjoy the beach its great.


24 jeff wallace July 11, 2010 at 4:51 am

hey thanx for the info, keep it clean, we need all the help we can get


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