tar from spill turns up in texas Bo­li­var Penin­sula beach sees 1st signs of Deep­wa­ter dis­as­ter

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By richard Faus­set and Bob dro­gin

Oil from the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon spill was re­ported on a Texas beach for the first time as stormy weather Mon­day plagued new cleanup plans in the Gulf of Mex­ico.

The weather pre­vented skim­ming op­er­a­tions for the eighth con­sec­u­tive day off the coasts of Mis­sis­sippi, Alabama and Florida. Along the Louisiana coast, a storm sys­tem made land­fall Mon­day af­ter­noon, bring­ing thun­der­storms and ground­ing skim­mers op­er­at­ing close to shore.

In Texas, of­fi­cials con­firmed Mon­day that they found a small num­ber of tar balls on Galve­ston Is­land and nearby Bo­li­var Penin­sula. The ones on Bo­li­var were tested and found to be from the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon spill; the ones on Galve­ston are be­ing tested.

“I think all to­gether they filled up a cou­ple of buck­ets full of them,” said Jim Suy­dam, a spokesman for the Texas Gen­eral Land Of­fice. “We think we’ll be able to con­tain any im­pact from Deep­wa­ter to tar ball pickup on the beach.”

The amount dis­cov­ered is tiny com­pared with what has coated beaches so far in Louisiana, Mis­sis­sippi, Alabama and Florida. It still pro­voked the quick dispatch of clean­ing crews.

“Any Texas shores im­pacted by the Deep­wa­ter spill will be cleaned up quickly, and BP will be pick­ing up the tab,” Land Com­mis­sioner Jerry Pat­ter­son said in a state­ment.

About 5 gal­lons of tar balls were found Satur­day on Bo­li­var Penin­sula, north­east of Galve­ston, said Capt. Mar­cus Woodring, the Coast Guard com­man­der for the Hous­ton/ Galve­ston sec­tor. Two gal­lons were found Sun­day on the penin­sula and Galve­ston Is­land, though tests have not yet con­firmed their ori­gin.

The largest tar balls found Satur­day were the size of ping­pong balls; the ones Sun­day were more like nick­els and dimes.

Woodring said the con­sis­tency of the tar balls in­di­cates they could have been spread to Texas wa­ters by ships that have worked out in the spill.

Galve­ston Mayor Joe Ja­worski said he be­lieved the tar balls were a fluke, rather than a sign of what’s to come.

More rough seas are likely later this week, with a trop­i­cal sys­tem churn­ing east of the Yu­catán Penin­sula that might head north and strike east­ern Texas and western Louisiana late Wed­nes­day, ac­cord­ing to Ac­cuWeather.com.

“This re­gion is an open high­way for the sys­tem to ride more to the north, rather than to the west, like Alex did re­cently,” Ac­cuWeather meteorologist Alex Sos­nowski wrote Mon­day.

The spill, gush­ing as much as 60,000 bar­rels of oil per day, is about 50 miles from the mouth of the Mis­sis­sippi River.

Sos­nowski said that the trop­i­cal sys­tem is likely to be­come at least a trop­i­cal storm and has the pos­si­bil­ity of cre­at­ing squalls that could dis­rupt the oil con­tain­ment and cleanup ef­forts.

High seas over the week­end also ham­pered the 48-hour test run of the so-called su­per skim­mer, a retro­fit­ted 1,100foot tanker called A Whale, which of­fi­cials hope will be able to suck up 300,000 bar­rels of oil ev­ery 10 hours.

The storms have not af­fected drilling work on a re­lief well that BP says is the best chance for fi­nally plug­ging the leak. The com­pany still ex­pects drilling on that to be fin­ished by mid-Au­gust.

Jerry Biggs, a com­mer­cial fish­er­man in Pass Chris­tian, Miss., who has had to shut down be­cause of the spill, is now hir­ing out his 13 boats and 40-per­son crew to BP for cleanup. He said the skim­ming op­er­a­tion is se­verely ham­pered by the weather.

“We don’t even have the equip­ment to do the job right,” Biggs said.

From Louisiana, where skim­ming re­sumed af­ter a three-day halt last week, to Florida, there are about 44,500 peo­ple, nearly 6,600 boats and 113 air­craft en­listed in the cleanup and con­tain­ment ef­fort, ac­cord­ing to BP.

Biggs said the hur­ri­cane sea­son will fur­ther hurt the cleanup ef­fort, adding that one big storm could push the oil ev­ery­where.

“This isn’t go­ing away. This isn’t a sneeze or a hic­cup. This is di­ar­rhea for a long time,” he said. “My life­style is screwed. It’s over. The thing that I love the most, I’m not go­ing to be able to do any­more.”

Costs ris­ing for BP

BP’s costs for the spill climbed nearly half a bil­lion dol­lars in the past week, rais­ing the oil gi­ant’s tab to $3.12 bil­lion, up from $2.65 bil­lion a week ear­lier. The fig­ure does not in­clude a $20 bil­lion fund for Gulf dam­ages BP cre­ated last month.

BP, seek­ing cash to meet the costs, is con­sid­er­ing sell­ing fields in Colom­bia, Venezuela and Viet­nam, a per­son with knowl­edge of the mat­ter said. BP may also dis­pose of its 60 per­cent hold­ing in Pan Amer­i­can En­ergy, Ar­gentina’s sec­ond-largest oil pro­ducer, the per­son said, de­clin­ing to be iden­ti­fied be­cause the in­for­ma­tion is con­fi­den­tial.

BP pledged to raise $10 bil­lion through as­sets sales in the next 12 months to pay the costs of com­pen­sat­ing vic­tims of the spill.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.