We've been lucky so far. The only oil we've seen have been in the form of tar balls. They've been heavy at times, but not this bad. In the News Journal story, people were also reporting a strong chemical smell along with the huge globs of black goop.
Large mats of oil - what they euphemistically (and appetizingly!) call "mousse" have reportedly entered Pensacola Bay, sparking a frantic effort to skim and clean them up before they get into the various little bayous, coves, nooks and crannies that line the bay.
However, just to the east, Navarre Beach remains clear.
And that's how it's going to go. One area will get hit hard for a couple of days. The onslaught of oil may then subside for a while, but other areas will get hit.
The liquid "mousse," which has been described as resembling melted Hershey's chocolate, may not be as easy to clean up as the semi-solid tar balls. Attempts at shoveling the "mousse" only result in getting it mixed with the sand - not a good thing.
I believe that in the really bad areas where liquid-ish oil washes up on the beaches, they're going to have to come up with some machine that can collect the sand, wash it and separate the oil out, then return the sand to the beach. Kids with shovels and plastic bags ain't gonna cut it; what we need is a modern-day Eli Whitney.
There is a lot of oil out there. The latest estimates are that the Deepwater Horizon well may actually be leaking as much as 60,000 barrels of oil or more into the Gulf. Folks, that's 252,000 gallons per day. And it's a far cry from the 1,000 barrels of oil BP estimated was leaking in the beginning. Turns out that they knew it was much worse than that even then.
Without a doubt, President Obama was slow to react to the seriousness and enormity of this situation. When he finally got up to speed and realized just how bad the leak was (much worse than BP was claiming), BP was still allowed to be in charge of both capping the well and the cleanup. Many people feel that the federal government should have taken over the cleanup effort - and should still!
(It's kind of funny, in a way, how so many people who are criticizing the Obama administration for being too "big government" are now calling for the government to take charge and do something about this mess. You just can't please everybody, I guess.)
In any event, the volume of oil in the Gulf grows by the day. As it does, it will be washing up in more and more places. I've said before that it's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. All we can do is wait for BP to get the hole plugged by drilling the relief well. Hopefully that'll work.
But when will that be? God only knows. And He's not telling.