Tar Balls Showing Up on Ala. Beaches Again


BALDWIN COUNTY, AL - "Throughout the summer time we have typically seen from 40 to 80 pounds of these tar ball materials washing up on the beaches of Baldwin County," said Gulf Shores spokesman Grant Brown.

After Isaac came through, that number jumped dramatically.

"We had about 200 pounds of tar picked up on the fourth, which was the last report that we got," Brown said.

And in Orange Beach...

"You may have been picking up a half pound [or] a quarter pound a day," said Phillip West with Orange Beach Coastal Resources. "That's jumped considerably to 30 pounds."

The culprit is offshore oil mats that break apart in heavy surf, sending the weathered oil to the beach.

"This is what we're concerned with, and this is what we want gone."
(Reporter) "You picked that up in what - 10 15 minutes?"
"Five. Just a stroll on the beach, just walking the rack line in this area."

"So Phillip West said in five minutes he was able to get that many tar balls," said reporter Debbie Williams. "It's 11:42 we're going to see in five minutes how many we can find."

It didn't take long to start finding them just above the surf line, along with all the shells, almost two dozen quarter size and smaller tar balls.

"So it's 11:47 and this is how many we found in five minutes."

"I could be picking up tar for years."

According to West, nothing is being done to address the source of the problem.

"Sure in close to the shore they've done that, but you know that's not where we intuitively think the majority of the tar may be perched or hiding," he said.

Four teams of clean up crews are working in Orange Beach, three in Gulf Shores, and by the looks of things, they could be busy for a while.

"Two-and-a-half years later we're still dealing with the remnants of the oil spill. We'll probably continue to be plagued by this for a number of years to come. It's something that there is no real answer for today."

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