Special Reports

8 tons of waste cleared in Pensacola

MIAMI — Cleanup workers in the Pensacola area were kept busy overnight Wednesday, clearing eight tons of oil spill waste off a Perdido Key barrier island and monitoring a trail of gunk along another coast.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s office reported the existence of a three-mile-long trail of so-called mousse, an oily slick, between the Pensacola Beach pier and Fort Pickens National Park.

It was the 64th day of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. In Washington, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen reported at a midday briefing that BP had captured nearly 28,000 barrels of oil at the spill site on Tuesday.

It was a record high in the collection of leaking oil, into two drill ships deployed to replace the blown out rig.

Unfortunately, he said, a cap over the gushing well that had been collecting oil was disconnected after workers worried they had detected a dangerous buildup of pressure in a line feeding one of the drill ships, the Discover Enterprise. Allen was unable to say for how long the cap would remain disconnected or how much oil again flowed unrestrained into the Gulf of Mexico.

In Escambia County, the fallout of the spill became more and more evident.

“There were over eight tons of product cleaned off Johnson Beach off Perdido Key last night,” reported Kelly Cooke, a county public information officer. “It’s getting busier.”

In addition, the county spotted several solid masses of 8-by-10-foot weathered oil waste in the Pensacola Pass. It was contained, Cooke said, and a skimmer was on site.

Even as coastal protection measures have edged ever eastward as far as oyster-rich Apalachicola, the Panhandle’s western-most county, Escambia, which abuts Mississippi, remains the Sunshine State’s ground zero.