On Saturday, five gallons of tar balls appeared on the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island in Texas. Their arrival means that BP oil has now hit all five gulf states. Researchers don't believe that ocean currents alone carried the balls, but instead say that the glops of gloop washed off recovery ship hulls. Specifically, the researchers from a joint BP-Coast Guard response team looked at the tar balls' "weathering," which they say was too light for oil that had traveled from the leak site, around 550 miles away.
Galveston's mayor, Joe Jaworski, said he was hopeful the analysis was correct and that the tar balls were not a sign of more oil to come. "This is good news. The water looks good. We're cautiously optimistic this is an anomaly," he said. [BBC]
Greg Pollock, Texas Deputy Commissioner of the Oil Spill Prevention and Response, has worried that this day was coming; he sounded a call in a June Texas Land Office newsletter:
“This ain’t our first rodeo with tar balls. We will be ready.” [NPR]
According to the AFP, the largest are only slightly larger than an inch in diameter and, all combined, cover less than one percent of the beaches where they were spotted: East Beach on Galveston Island and Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula, which both remain open. Though Texas officials say that the beaches remain safe, they also promise that BP will pay for any damage:
"Any Texas shores impacted by the Deepwater spill will be cleaned up quickly and BP will be picking up the tab," Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said in a news release. [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Meanwhile, in Louisiana, oil has reached Lake Pontchartrain, known for its seemingly miraculous recovery from the pollution in the 1990s and again after Army Corps of Engineers drained Katrina floodwaters from New Orleans into the lake. The body of water is technically an estuary that is connected to the Gulf of Mexico through several straits. Recent posts on the Gulf oil spill: 80beats: Gulf Coast Turtle News: No More Fiery Death; Relocating 70,000 Eggs 80beats: Hurricane Alex Held Up Oil Cleanup—And in Some Places, Made Things Worse 80beats: Next from X Prize: An Award for Cleaning up BP’s Oil Spill? 80beats: Obama’s Speech on the Oil Spill: What Do You Think of His “Battle Plan”? 80beats: BP to Kevin Costner: We’ll Take 32 of Your Oil Clean-up Machines
Image: flickr / Geoff Livingston