Tar Balls Wash Up on Okaloosa Island

By: Tim Elliott Email
By: Tim Elliott Email

Oil is now washing ashore on some beaches in the News 4 viewing area.

“Gorgeous waters, gorgeous beaches, and its just heartbreaking to see the beach in this shape. It's devastating,” said Atlanta, Georgia resident Tammie Dalrymple.

Crude oil started spewing into the Gulf of Mexico almost two months ago.

“I'm just surprised, here we are two months almost to the day, and we have no resolution in sight, and that is what bothers me,” said Crestview, Florida resident Lisa Biller.

On Wednesday morning, tar balls began washing up on Okaloosa Island beaches.

“Most of them are about thumb size to maybe palm size, they're the consistency of pudding, they look like it, and they feel like it until you actually grind on it with your fingers and you'll see that oil come out of it,” Capt. Rich Huffnagle with Okaloosa County Beach Safety.

Officials say despite the tar balls, there's no reason to close any of the beaches just yet.

“Most of the chemicals that are in there are dispersed, but they're (the tar balls) a nuisance, they'll get on people, they'll stick to people and they'll stick to your feet when you walk on the beach,” said Capt. Huffnagle.

“You can still walk the beach, you just have to watch where you walk and if you get a tar on your feet, it's alright,” said Dalrymple.

Many beachgoers are upset that it's come to this.

“I mean, we have beautiful beaches and now we have to look at the little tar balls. It's not attractive, it's scary and you don't even want to let your kids in the water right now,” said Biller.

Biller adds the oil's impact will be widespread.

“The economy is already hard for people and it's going to be even harder for businesses around here now because right now, this beach should be packed, and it's not,”

“People don't want to go to a beach if there's a bunch of oil. I mean the attractions are nice, but everyone comes for the beaches,” said North Carolina resident Darcy Liming.

Officials say because of unpredictable Gulf currents, they're not certain if more oil will wash ashore.

Okaloosa Beach Safety officials say within four hours of an oil sighting on the island, BP clean up crews were on site and got to work.

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