Pensacola Bay Lab Results ‘Extremely Toxic to Human Health’

Lab results confirm that oil discovered in Pensacola Bay last month has extreme toxicity levels

Scott Page
Gulf Breeze News

Test results are in for oil material found in Pensacola Bay late last month, and the numbers are frightening.

A lab experienced in testing petroleum products determined that the oil’s toxicity levels are sky-high.

“In its natural state, the numbers are off the chart,” said Heather Reed, the environmental expert for the City of Gulf Breeze who made the discovery. “It’s extremely toxic to human health.”

Lab workers had to dilute the sample 20 times just to get a reading. Reed said samples are usually diluted only once.

“The oil is very well preserved,” Reed added. “It smells very strong when pulled out of the water. It made me nauseated.” Reed in late September discovered a significant amount of oil buried in submerged sediment near Fort McRae in Escambia County while conducting independent research.

“The oil was in about 3 feet of water and was buried pretty deep in the sediment,” Reed recalled. “The mats where between 6 inches and a foot in diameter, but some were more than 2 feet in diameter. I kept digging and finding more and more.

“Finding this submerged oil is very alarming to me because it’s in such large mats,” Reed explained. “I believe it came into (the bay) in June with the initial impacts.”

Reed on Sept. 30 revisited the site and another near Barrancas Beach with BP and Coast Guard officials to inform responders of her discovery. She also discovered oil present at Johnson Beach, Fort Pickens and Orange Beach through research she conducted in September.

The topography near Fort McRae helped preserve the submerged oil. Because the area is a secluded cove, very little water flows through it – resulting in low oxygen levels.

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