Who’s on the beach?
Florida Sea Grant Extension Agent
Santa Rosa County
As the oil spill began to impact our local beaches, you may have wondered who all those people on the beach were. Even as the clean-up winds down, you still may see folks on all-terrain vehicles driving up and down the beaches. Many are employees of private contractors for BP; others are SCAT teams, county and state agency personnel, and researchers from various universities. The most numerous have been those who work for private contractors cleaning up tar balls and submerged oil.
SCAT team checking a beach for buried oil. Photo Credits: Chris Verlinde
SCAT or Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Technique teams are on beaches along the Gulf Coast assessing areas for petroleum product on and below the surface of the sand. These teams consist of personnel from a federal agency (such as: NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife, the Coast Guard) a state agency representative and a representative from Polaris Applied Sciences who are contracted by BP. Along the Gulf Islands National Seashore a READ is assigned to each SCAT teams and the clean-up crew. The READ, or Resource Advisory personnel monitor clean-up activities and provide information on natural and cultural resources within the targeted areas for clean-up.
The SCAT teams survey segments of beaches each day. They file daily reports on what type and amount of product was found in each segment. These reports are used to determine where to dispatch cleanup workers. The SCAT teams return to the site when cleanup is complete. Responsibilities of the SCAT teams include:
Evaluate oiling conditions
Factor in shoreline types
Identify sensitive resources
Determine need for cleanup
Recommend cleanup methods and endpoints
Place constraints on cleanup if necessary, due to ecological, economic, or cultural concerns
As we are likely to continue to see oil occasionally wash up on beaches for some time, SCAT teams are still ready for deployment. If you notice tar balls or other types of weathered petroleum on our beaches, call the State Warning Point at 1-877-2-SAVE-FL (1-877-272-8335) or by dialing #DEP from a cell phone.