“Oh, are they staying open?” Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson said when he heard the news.
The local BP claims office—the last in the Pensacola area—was scheduled to close Nov 15. A last minute decision was made by the oil company to keep the location open on Mondays and by appointment.
“That really upset me,” Robinson said of the decision to close. “They’re just trying to make it more difficult for people to file claims. What else for?”
If the local office closed, people would need to travel to Gulf Shore, Ala., or Fort Walton Beach to speak to someone about recouping financial losses from BP due to the 2010 gulf oil spill. Officials with the Gulf Coast Claims Facility cited low traffic as the rationale for the closure, but reported the office still served between 70 and 90 people each day.
Commissioner Robinson said that Escambia County had reached out to Florida legislators for help in keeping the facility open. Dan McFaul, spokesman for Rep. Jeff Miller (R), said that the legislator’s office had certainly expressed their concern.
“After the tar balls that were recovered from Perdido Key recently, I continue to be concerned about the amount of product that is still yet to be recovered,” Miller said in a statement last week.
As BP and the U.S. Coast Guard have announced that the spill’s clean-up phase is over, more than 1,000-pounds of oil was cleaned from Perdido Key last week. Escambia County estimates between 200 and 500 pounds are recovered from its beaches each week.
With the official wrap-up of the clean-up, new oil and tar balls will need to be positively linked to BP’s Macondo well in order for the company to accept responsibility. Louisiana State University chemist Ed Overton has reported that the ability to make such a positive link decreases as the oil weathers.
“No, no, no. That would be an issue,” said Robinson. “If things are still popping up, they have to be there.”
THIS VAN WILL NOT STAND, MAN It was a bad day for Occupy Pensacola. Shortly before Mayor Ashton Hayward was to kick them off the lawn at City Hall, one of their tribe landed himself on The Smoking Gun website.
After finishing up another march downtown Friday, Nov. 18, Occupiers were settling down for their last few sanctioned hours when Jeffery Scott decided he wanted to park his van on the sidewalk in front of City Hall.
“All I’m trying to do is use my freedom of speech to put my van right here!” he yelled.
Pensacola Police were having none of it, and a crew of fellow Occupiers also gathered round and attempted to rationalize with the man.
“Everybody’s trying to stop me from talking!” Scott yelled at the Occupiers. “What’s going on? Rats seep into our brains still!”
For a while it was a scene. Mayoral staffers looked down from a balcony. A TV news crew held their breath. But then, 32-year-old Scott began shopping his argument around the crowd and the cops seemed to grow bored.
That day, a face-painted mugshot appeared on the website The Smoking Gun, which cited an Escambia County Sheriff’s report. Apparently, Scott had been arrested Thursday, Nov. 17 for allegedly stealing patio furniture from a neighbor. He said he planned to return the items.