Oil from Deep­wa­ter here? No … and yes

mcfaddin’s tar balls, not Galve­ston’s or Bo­li­var’s, only ones linked to spill

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Asher Price

Tar balls as­so­ci­ated with the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil dis­as­ter have washed up on Texas beaches, just not the par­tic­u­lar tar balls state and fed­eral of­fi­cials first fin­gered.

On Fri­day, the U.S. Coast Guard backed away from its claim that tar balls that ap­peared over the Fourth of July week­end on the shores of Galve­ston and the Bo­li­var Penin­sula could be traced to the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon spill. But in a con­fus­ing twist, the Coast Guard says that tar balls that showed up in McFaddin Na­tional Wildlife Refuge on July 5 are from the Deep­wa­ter spill.

On Mon­day, ap­prox­i­mately 550 gal­lons of a mix of sand and oil were col­lected from McFaddin Beach, roughly 40 miles east of Galves- ton, ac­cord­ing to the Coast Guard. The tar balls and pat­ties at the site ranged from base­ball-sized to 5-by5-foot mats and were con­firmed as a pos­i­tive match by the govern­ment-con­tracted lab in Houma, La., and the Coast Guard’s Ma­rine Safety Lab in Con­necti­cut.

The Fourth of July week­end find­ings in Galve­ston and the Bo­li­var Penin­sula, ini­tially traced to the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon spill by the Louisiana lab, had led to a news con­fer­ence in which Land Com­mis­sioner Jerry Pat­ter­son said the ap­pear­ance of the gooey, tacky oil was a sur­prise be­cause fore­cast­ers had not

Con­tin­ued from A ex­pected Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil to reach Texas shores. He and other of­fi­cials spec­u­lated that the oil had leaked from barges bear­ing oily wa­ter from the spill site, rather than trav­el­ing nat­u­rally by wind and cur­rents.

The an­nounce­ment of the Deep­wa­ter oil turn­ing up on Texas shores turned heads be­cause it was the first sign that oil from the dis­as­ter, which be­gan when a rig ex­ploded in April, had reached Texas.

But on Fri­day the Coast Guard said fur­ther anal­y­sis of the Bo­li­var and Galve­ston tar balls in its own Con­necti­cut lab found no match.

“We don’t re­ally care where they’re from,” said Jim Suy­dam, a spokesman for the land of­fice.

“If there are tar balls on the beach, we pick them up as fast as pos­si­ble, and we don’t ask where they came from.”

Beaches in the area re­main open.

Jen­nifer Reynolds GALVe­StOn cOUntY DAiLY neWS

Work­ers scoop oil-coated plants in Galve­ston on Fri­day. Of­fi­cials said that tar balls found on the beach over the Fourth of July week­end were not linked to the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon spill, as pre­vi­ously thought. Tar balls found on McFaddin Beach, far­ther east, have been linked to the Deep­wa­ter dis­as­ter.

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