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Coast Guard Asks for Public’s Help in Finding Tar Balls

By Evelina Burnett | Published 07 Aug 2013 04:37pm | comments
GRAND ISLE, La.--A Coast Guard marine science technician with the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team inspects a tar ball recovered during cleanup operations, March 20, 2012. GCIMT photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth H. Bordelon.

 The Coast Guard is asking for the public’s help in reporting any tar balls or oil they may see on Mississippi coast beaches and barrier islands. Officials say that only small numbers of tar balls from the BP oil spill are being found now, but they want to make sure the public knows what to do if they see any.

 It’s easy to miss a tar ball. Coast Guard Lt. Comm. Natalie Murphy says they may just look like small rocks.

"It's really an oil mixed with sand substance in a variety of sizes but it's really a small, it's usually the size of a penny or less," says Murphy.

The BP oil spill clean-up, which is overseen by the Coast Guard, transitioned to a response-based system in June. Previously, clean-up teams had walked the beaches looking for oil. Now, they respond when reports are made to the National Response Center.

Murphy says they’ve reduced the footprint of the response in line with the amount of oil now being found and also to cut back on any environmental impact during turtle and bird nesting season. The public can contact the National Response Center by phone or online.

"Just let us know what you see and where you are and the Coast Guard will get investigators out there to take a look at it, identify it, and once it's positively identified as...oil or that from the Deepwater oil spill, then we're going to appropriately clean it up and that bill of the clean-up still goes back to BP because they remain the responsible party," continues Murphy.    

Only 12 reports of tar balls were made from Mississippi in June and July. The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says it’s also doing periodic inspections of the shoreline and, in general, small amounts of tar balls have been found.

 

More information: 

National Response Center: 800-424-8802, www.nrc.uscg.mil

 

Images

GRAND ISLE, La.--A Coast Guard marine science technician with the Gulf Coast Incident Management Team inspects a tar ball recovered during cleanup operations, March 20, 2012. GCIMT photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Elizabeth H. Bordelon.


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