The chemist selected by WKRG, who has over thirty years experience, says that the baseline Parts Per Million (PPM) would be either "non-existent for sand or very low--maybe 5/PPM."
The actual test results are surprising and alarming:
Gulf Shores, Alabama
Beach water from a child digging sand holes--66/PPM
Orange Beach, Alabama
Sand hole water, again from children digging--221/PPM
Katrina Key, Alabama
Dauphin Island Marina
Test material blew up the beaker immediately when an organic agent for testing was added, no amount quantified, but it had to be very high for that unusual action to occur.
The chemist said he thought it may have been from methanol, methane gas or Corexit.
They will be retesting, especially with the last result being so unusual.
The sand and water from holes in the sand are testing higher than the surf water. Those results are of great concern since what we primarily see on the news and read about in the press are the large numbers of clean up workers attending to the beaches on a daily basis.
There have been some reports of oil contaminated water on some of the beaches not being cleaned up, but buried beneath sand by frontloaders working on the beaches. The results of the above tests seem to give those reports some validity and leaves us with the question of why wasn't it cleaned up according to protocol, which calls for complete removal of anything contaminated by oil.
Children are going to be most susceptible to exposure by their propensity to want to dig and play in the beach sand. That is what makes these findings very disturbing.
What is equally troubling in light of these results is the caution to the wind attitude of state officials to tell everyone to "come on down" and at least enjoy the "beautiful beaches of Alabama."
We understand their desire to have tourists return, but at what price to those visitors? It is just too soon and there is still a lot we do not know yet about the after effects of not only just the spill itself, but the 2,000,000 gallons of Corexit that has been applied.
We think this is really an effort to get the bad news off of the front pages and get the money rolling in again, even if that means taking some risks. Our suggestion would be to step up the clean up efforts, make certain they are being done correctly with strict oversight, and when subsequent testing by independent labs reveals acceptable levels then it will be safe to urge visitors to return.
Those tests should be available to the public and verified that they are indeed independent tests done by credible chemists not on BPs or the state payrolls.
From a PR standpoint this makes the most sense; if the public perceives an abundance of caution is being exercised they will be more receptive to believe what they are being told.
Great investigative work by Ms. Taloney!