Monday, July 5, 2010

To swim or not amid the oil

The swimming debate is heating up in the Panhandle during a holiday weekend marred by oily water.

George Lanzi and Luba Rudkovskaya, a young couple from New York City, find themselves divided this weekend on a central question facing beachgoers here: to swim or not to swim?

"I'm not going in," Rudkovskaya, 27, said from her beach chair a few feet from the surf. "If I hadn't gotten tired, I would have stayed in all day," a soaked Lanzi countered from his chair. "I'm planning to go back in."

The two faced a dilemma not easily resolved even by local government officials, who wrestled Friday with how forcefully to warn off the public from swimming in the Gulf.

While some days this week found beaches and surf in Pensacola Beach heavily pocked by congealed oil known as tar balls, others unfolded like Friday did: The water seemed clear and the sand only lightly stained by an amber tide line where a light sheen had been.

Everyone knows that the oil and the disbursants are dangerous and unhealthy carcinogenic chemicals.

To allow tourists to swim in contaminated waters just because you can't see it is inexcusable. The local officials are acting like the mayor in "Jaws" who refused to cancel the holiday beach weekend after the first attacks.

Maybe they should have opposed the oil drilling in the first place?

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