Oil has washed ashore and coated a Florida beach in the wake of Hurricane Sally, according to reports from local officials.
The oil was discovered on Saturday along a five-mile stretch of Johnson Beach in Perdido Key on the Gulf Coast close to the Alabama state line.
A county official said that it was possible the oil was whipped up by the hurricane from the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon Spill a decade ago, which continues to have impacts in the Gulf.
Pensacola and surrounding Escambia County were hit hard by Hurricane Sally earlier this month. The hurricane smacked into southern Alabama and the Florida panhandle with 105 mph (165 kph) winds and surging seawater. Rainfall led to one to two and a half feet of flooding in places.
U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Dustin Williams told the Pensacola News Journal on Monday that officials were collecting samples to discover where the oil had come from.
Escambia County Administrator Janice Gilley also told PNJ that the oil looked like tarballs, perhaps from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
She said they appeared to have been washed up and melted in the sun but cautioned that the source would not be known for sure until the coast guard had completed testing.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster spewed an estimated 134 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before it was capped.
Then-president Barack Obama called it “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”.
The fallout was catastrophic: 1,300 miles of coastline from Florida to Texas, was impacted, killing tens of thousands of marine mammals and fish, and decimating livelihoods in the seafood and tourism industries. The cost of the damage ran to tens of billions of dollars.
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