Tar Balls Spotted On Texas Shores

NOAATar balls collected from the Crystal Beach area of the Bolivar Peninsula on Saturday came from the Deepwater Horizon spill, tests have confirmed, but it is unclear how the material got to Texas.

Investigators discovered very small tar balls in the surf, but not on shore, Saturday evening. The tar balls were collected and sent to the lab to be tested where they were determined to be associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The testing found that the oil was lightly weathered, raising doubts that the oil traversed the Gulf from the spill source. Boats carry oil collected during the response to Texas for processing raising the possibility the oil could have been transported on a vessel.

The Coast Guard, Texas General Land Office (TGLO), and the City of Galveston patrolled the beaches by both helicopter and on foot over the weekend. On Sunday, teams discovered some dime-sized to nickel-sized tar balls on both Bolivar Peninsula's Crystal Beach and Galveston's East Beach.

The Coast Guard hired a contractor to remove the tar balls. A total of approximately 35 gallons of sand/seaweed/tar balls was recovered in Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula and on East Beach in Galveston on Sunday and Monday. Crews estimate that of the 35 gallons of material recovered, there were about 7 gallons of tar balls contained within the waste material. The largest was ping-pong ball sized. Lab analysis continues on the tar balls recovered on Sunday and Monday.

The Coast Guard, TGLO and City of Galveston will continue patrols to find and clean up tar balls. A command post has also been established. All Galveston beaches and Southeast Texas waterways remain open.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for most people, an occasional brief contact with a small amount of oil will do no harm. However, some people are especially sensitive to chemicals, including the hydrocarbons found in crude oil and petroleum products. In general, NOAA recommends that if oil contact occurs, the area be washed with soap and water, baby oil or another safe cleaning compound.

The public can report an oil spill or tar ball sighting by calling the Texas General Land Office at 1-800-832-8224 or the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802.

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