Did a Piece of Deepwater Horizon Wash Up on a Florida Beach? [Updated]

This isn't the actual washed-up tank, but we couldn't find a good picture. Please let us know if you have one!

Over the past few months, the BP oil disaster has littered Gulf Coast beaches with both dead wildlife and tar balls. Now, in a Lost-like turn of events, a piece of an oil storage tank, thought to be from the Deepwater Horizon rig, has washed up on Florida's Panama City Beach. The 5,000 pound, 550 gallon tank still had a small amount of oil leaking out when it washed ashore on Saturday, but it was quickly removed from the beach and is currently en route to New Orleans for further investigation.

The Bay County Sheriff Offense/Incident Report provides details:

I WAS DISPATCHED TO BEACH ACCESS 78, 20225 FRONT BEACH RD IN REFERENCE TO A HAZARDOUS MATERIAL CONTAINER THAT WASHED UP ONTO THE SHORE. UPON ARRIVAL, I MADE CONTACT WITH MR HAAS WHO ADVISED THAT HE SAW THE CONTAINER WASH UP AT ABOUT 0900 THIS MORNING. THE CONTAINER WAS A SILVER METAL CUBE, 6'X 5'X 5' WITH A 550 GAL CAPACITY. I NOTICED A SMALL AMOUNT OF A OILY BASE SUBSTANCE OOZING UP FROM THE TOP HATCH...LT ARNOLD OF THE USCG ADVISED THAT THE CONTAINER CAME FROM THE DEEP HORIZONS OIL RIG EXPLOSION AND WAS A LUBRICANT CONTAINER USES FOR OIL RIG DRILLING EQUIPMENT.

 

While the report indicates that the tanker came from the Deepwater Horizon, officials won't confirm that it is a product of the exploded rig—even though it has a sticker on it that says both "BP" and "Horizon".  "I don't have any information about where it came from. It could potentially have been from [the rig] or any number of places," says Valerie Lovett, a spokeswoman for Bay County.  The Coast Guard referred us to a BP official who has not yet returned our calls.

This is the first oil that the area has seen thus far. Tar balls and oil sheens have washed up approximately 60 miles east of the beached tank, however, and Panama City Beach is preparing for oil to hit its shores. "I think we've had an expectation that we could be impacted from this all along, but I don't think that we really expected that this would be our first impact," Lovett says.

Update: A second tank washed up today in Walton County, Florida. Afterwards, Transocean admitted that both tanks came from the Deepwater Horizon rig.

 Read more about the Gulf Oil Spill

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Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email

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