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BP Resumes Barrier Island Clean-Up as Bird Nesting Season Comes to a Close

By Rhonda Miller | Published 23 Sep 2011 08:55am | comments
Shirley Tillman in Pass Christian.

After six months of giving the birds privacy for nesting, BP resumes clean-up of Mississippi’s barrier islands today.  MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports coastal residents have been monitoring the shoreline all along.

Shirley Tillman is walking along the beach in Pass Christian and taking pictures, like she does a few times a week. Today, she’s not finding anything unusual. But last week, she was disturbed by the number of tar balls she found on a Hancock County beach.

"It was maybe a block, this one little section of the beach, but it was just covered," Tillman said. "I guess the sun had dried them out, and they were a brown color. When you opened them up it was gooey oil inside of them." (Why do you think it was oil? )"Because I smelled it, the minute you broke them open you could smell it."

Out on the barrier islands, boaters have been giving reports of tar balls washing up.

Captain Louis Skrmetta of Ship Island Excursions talks about what he’s seen.

"It looked fresh. It wasn’t covered in sand. There were two pieces. One the size of my hand one the size of a hamburger patty, about an inch or two thick, and it was nasty. It had me a little concerned," Skremetta said.

BP spokesman Ray Melick said clean-up crews have been doing maintenance all along on beaches that are not part of Gulf Islands National Seashore.  Beginning today, a clean-up crew of about 40 people will be return to the  barrier islands.  

"We haven’t been to those islands since March 1," Melick said. "It’s no surprise that there might be indeed tar balls out there. There were when we left the islands back in March.

Melick says BP is continuing to work with the Coast Guard and other state and federal agencies, and they’ll keep the clean-up going until the job is done.

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Shirley Tillman in Pass Christian.


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