The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has apologized after posting a Twitter update Wednesday morning that tar balls had washed ashore on Destin beaches.

At about 10:30, the federal agency reported that a cleanup crew had been dispatched to the unspecified scene. The Log immediately checked with city, county and wildlife officials to verify the report. But all said they had not recieved any word on the find.

An hour later, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service tweeted that “Sources have verified that news about tarballs on Destin Beach was mistake in our daily report. Apologies for the inconvenience!!”

This report on the tar scare comes from the Northwest FLorida Daily News’ Tom McLaughlin.

There are not, repeat not, tar balls washing up on beaches in Destin.

That much has been confirmed by Okaloosa County Emergency Manager Randy McDaniel.

A tweet stating “Tarballs have hit Destin Beach in FL. A cleanup crew has been deployed” appeared this morning on a twitter account belonging to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast.

The post came “via Hootsuite.”

McDaniel said he had been informed about the tweet and said he had called the Florida Emergency Operations Center and requested assistance in getting the “erroneous information” removed.

Jim Burkhart at the Fish and Wildlife Service disaster operations desk in Atlanta was originally at a loss for where the tweet had originated, but by noon had determined its origin.

“It came out of a report out of one of our mobile command areas,” Burkhart said. He identified the command post as being in Mobile.

Burkhart was later able to determine that the report had been made by a group of Fish and Wildlife officers who were called to “somewhere near Destin” in response to a report of a bird covered in oil. The officers did not find the bird, but did find what they believed to be “oil balls on the beach” and collected the material to take back for testing, Burkhart said.

It is doubtful the material was tar balls, Burkhart said.

“What they actually picked up I don’t know,” he said. “I think we’re making a lot of something out of nothing.”

He apologized on behalf of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for any inconvenience the erroneous report might have caused.

No reports of oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill entering Florida waters have been confirmed. Winds from the southeast have been pushing the massive spill westward from its Louisiana source, weather officials say.

Continue reading for the city’s latest emergency update.

(Information from the City of Destin)

The City of Destin is open for business!  East Pass is open to marine traffic!  Our sugar-white sandy beaches have NOT been affected by the oil spill.

Here are today’s updates:

The City of Destin’s Public Services crews will be attending Hazardous Materials Awareness and Wildlife Response Training Classes this week.  Courses have also been scheduled for Okaloosa County residents and will be held Wednesday, May 12- Saturday, May 15th.  If you are interested in assisting in shoreline oil spill cleanup operations, you can request placement in a spill response course by emailing Horizonresponse@pecpremier.com.  As you know by now, shoreline cleanup volunteers must have training, including hazardous materials training.  Only volunteers who have been trained and provide appropriate certification are allowed to assist.

Oil containment booms have been deployed in the East Pass.  The booming will not be extended into place until oil actually threatens the coastline.

(From Okaloosa County Emergency Management)

No potential landfall of oil in the Okaloosa area is expected through Thursday.  A Local State of Emergency has been declared for Okaloosa County and will run consecutively with the Governor’s declaration for the next 60 days. A citizen information line has been set up to ensure the most current information is available to all residents. To listen to the current recording please dial 311 option 8, to report any oil spill you notice in your area or affected wildlife call 311 option 0, this will connect you to a live operator.

Source:  http://www.thedestinlog.com

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