Tar balls wash ashore on Pensacola Beach
Hundreds or possibly thousands of tar balls washed up on the beach here Friday, in all likelihood the first oil from the massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico to hit Florida's coast.
''We are seeing some new oil and, yes, the strong likelihood is that it's from this event," Bob West, public safety director for the Santa Rosa Island Authority said Friday afternoon, referring to the Deepwater Horizon explosion.
West said some of the tar hitting the 8.3-mile stretch of beach he's responsible for was older than the 46 days because it had sea life growing in it, but he could tell that other particles were new because they were emulsified.
West said he was not going to close the beach to swimming. Asked if it was safe for people to be on the beach, he said, "I wouldn't pick it up and eat it. If you leave it alone you should be fine."
He said he has been told that BP was sending 11 cleanup crews, but that his employees would not be cleaning the tar because they had not been trained by BP to deal with oil.