Most Tarballs Hitting Texas NOT From Big Spill (So Far)

The Coast Guard says now they were mistaken, that new tests show most of the tar balls washing onto Texas beaches are not from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson says that whatever the source, all the oil will be cleaned up. KUHF Health, Science and Technology Reporter Carrie Feibel has more.
The Coast Guard says there was a laboratory mistake during previous tests of tar balls on Texas beaches. New tests show the majority of the tar balls found so far are not from the Deepwater spill. A few of them definitely are, however. Land Commissioner Jerry Paterson says the announcement might cause more confusion among beachgoers.

"It's a little whiplash effect. I mean, my hunch is we've got tar balls on the beach, some from deepwater horizon, some not from deepwater horizon. And I also think it's a little premature. We have samples from oil and tar balls that made landfall yesterday. That data's not back yet."

Patterson wants to reassure beach visitors. He says the impact of the oil spill on the Texas coast is still minimal and it's safe to swim.

"If you have a tar ball area you can just move 15-20 yards down the beach and you've got an area that's got no tar balls."

The Land office receives about ten complaints a year about tar balls. Patterson says that his focus is on finding the source.

"We can get angry about it or not angry about it but the bottom line is we're gonna clean it up, we find the responsible party. They're going to pay for it, Texas taxpayers are not."

The few tar balls that have been confirmed to be from the BP spill were found on McFaddin Beach, which is east of the Bolivar Peninsula. Carrie Feibel, KUHF News.
Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...