EPA official deems Pensacola Beach water unsafe

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An administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, visited the Florida Panhandle on July 3 for the first time since the April 20 explosion and stated to reporters that she would not swim in the water off the coast based on what she saw and smelled.

Lisa Jackson has visited the Gulf Coast six times since the BP oil spill began in the Gulf of Mexico on April 22 after the collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig at the Macondo well.

Her comments are the exact opposite of Florida Governor Charlie Crist who went on record to state that the waters were safe for the public to swim in and that the presence of oil was a mere nuisance. He also went on record that there was no toxicity due to the BP oil spill or the dispersants used during the cleanup.

Governor Crist’s comments were aired on a morning show on ABC on June 29, 2010, only a few days before Lisa Jackson’s visit to Pensacola Beach.

Local resident of Pensacola Beach, Gregg Hall, has been documenting the situation on the beach as well as the toxic gases in the surf on a daily basis.

Lisa Jackson stated to local reporters; “ From a commonsense perspective there is nothing that I am able to tell you in a chemical lab that you can’t learn about the safety of the water from a bathing purpose by looking at it and smelling it”.

She also said that despite the level of contamination on the beaches, it is up to local officials to decide whether they should be closed.

Bianca Ephraim, a spokeswoman for the National Park Services in Pensacola, and Kirby Shedlowsky, a park ranger, have repeatedly informed the public that the beach is safe but warning flags have been posted for swimmers due to the swells.

The beach can only be closed upon a direct order of Governor Charlie Crist who was not immediately available for comment. At the moment, Pensacola Beach remains open and beachgoers are allowed to bathe and swim even though the surf is highly toxic and orange foam is visible around the sandbars in front of the shore.

Written by Nick Doms © 2010, all rights reserved

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