it was lurking beneath the surface all this time
La. officials close 12 miles of coastline after Isaac washes up tar balls, oil from BP spill
Published: Tuesday, September 04, 2012, 4:10 PM
“It’s a very large mass that is viscous but hasn’t coalesced into tar mats yet,” Barham said. “But the Elmer’s Island beaches are littered with tar balls of every size, from eraser size to the size of baseballs.”
Samples will be analyzed by the LDWF and the state Department of Environmental Quality to determine if it originated from the Deepwater Horizon, Barham said.
Oil from that event often mixed with sand as it neared the coast and sank to the silty floor of the nearshore Gulf. But heavy weather has regularly dredged it up from the soft bottom, where waves carry it to the beach and even push it inside the marsh. The persistence of the oil has kept clean-up crews working along the coast since the April 2010 spill.
While the most toxic parts of raw oil quickly dissipate, the tar mats, tar balls and viscous sludge that reappear after storms remain a threat to fish, wildlife and humans, state authorities said. They can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, known carcinogens that can also disrupt endocrine systems in both humans and wildlife.
Barham cautioned the current discovery may not be the last. Crews are still inspecting other known Deepwater Horizon hot spots.
“Our people are still out conducting a thorough examination of the entire coast to check for storm impacts, including coast line erosion and oil, and we probably won’t be finished for several days,” he said. “Yes, we expected this could happen, but it’s still very troubling.”
LDWF crew are also reporting an oil structure in Barataria Bay leaking a small amount of oil. Clean-up crews were working that site, Barham said.