BP Oil Update: Tar Balls in Texas & Lake Pontchartrain

By Joseph Calamia | July 7, 2010 3:31 pm

tarballsOn 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

  • BP Spill Solved

    I have solved the BP spill! I will recover all oil and create wealthy landowners in the gulf all at the same time. Here is the plan:

    According to Congressman Johnson, Guam may tip over if it is over populated. His analysis proposes that Guam floats.


    We will tow Guam around Tierra Del Fuego and into the gulf where it covers the spill. Then we will drill shallow wells and suck up all of the oil under Guam. The landowners who buy beachfront on Guam will be millionaires overnight. The entire population will be very wealthy and live happy lives provided that they do not all run to board the same cruise ship and cause Guam to tip over.

  • http://geofflivingston.com Geoff Livingston

    Thanks for using my photo! We went on fact finding mission to the Gulf two weeks ago. It was god awful, but at least the images and posts are being used for good purposes…

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/ Eliza Strickland

    Thanks for making the photo available via Creative Commons, Geoff! Keep up the good & important work.

    Eliza, DISCOVER online news editor

  • http://www.beatsbydre-cuffie.eu Cuffie Dr Dre Beats

    cruise ship and cause Guam to tip over.


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