Crews scour Bolivar beaches for tar balls

July 7, 2010 4:12:25 PM PDT
The crisis in the Gulf is starting to really hit close to home. We know tar balls have been found on Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston's East Beach. Now it looks like more tar balls may have been found in Surfside, in Brazoria County, and near Sargent, in Matagorda County. Some beach goers on Crystal Beach are undaunted by the recovery of tar balls there and on Galveston Island beaches.

Visitor Karen Spurlock said, "We've seen a little tar balls but each day it is getting prettier and prettier and we're having a good time."

Contractors working to remove tar balls were interrupted due to heavy rain Wednesday. Tests confirm at least some of what has been found on Bolivar came from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Residents on Bolivar are concerned that it is just a matter of time until our beaches are coated in oil.

"Where's all that oil going to go? It's got to go somewhere," said Bolivar resident Norman Morua. "That's the bad thing."

The Coast Guard says just 18.5 gallons have been collected from Galveston and Bolivar so far. Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski says that is no reason to panic.

"The bottom line is these are not globs of oil mounting on our shore," Jaworski stressed. "These are small tar balls and we are picking them up."

Questions now include how did the oil actually get here? Several experts believe it may have been carried not by the currents, but by a vessel that passed through the spill area, taking with it tar balls that may not have otherwise reached the Texas coast.

Only time will tell how and how much of the leaking oil will wash up on Texas beaches. The tests the state is conducting right now will show if the water in Galveston could pose a danger to swimmers, or to wildlife.

If you come into contact with oil or a tar ball, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recommends that the area be washed with soap and water, baby oil or another safe cleaning compound.

To report an oil spill or tar ball sighting, call the Texas General Land Office at 800-832-8224 or the National Response Center at 800-424-8802.

Stay with Eyewitness News and abc13.com for the latest on this story.


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