Tar balls from the Gulf oil spill have been found on a Texas beach, the first evidence that crude from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon well has reached all the Gulf states.
A Coast Guard official said it was possible that the oil hitched a ride on a ship and was not carried naturally by currents to the barrier islands of the eastern Texas coast, but there was no way to know.
The amount is tiny in comparison to what has coated beaches in the hardest-hit parts of the Gulf coast in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle but it still provoked the quick dispatch of cleaning crews and a vow that BP will pay for the trouble.
“Any Texas shores impacted by the Deepwater spill will be cleaned up quickly and BP will be picking up the tab,” Texas Land Commissoner Jerry Patterson said in a news release.
The oil’s arrival in Texas was predicted Friday by an analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gave a 40 percent chance of crude reaching the area.
“It was just a matter of time that some of the oil would find its way to Texas,” said Hans Graber, a marine physicist at the University of Miami and co-director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.
About five gallons of tar balls were found on the Bolivar Peninsula, northeast of Galveston, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard commander for the Houston/Galveston sector. About two gallons were found on the peninsula and Galveston Island, though tests have not yet confirmed their origin.
Mr Woodring said the consistency of the tar balls indicates it’s possible they could have been spread to Texas water by ships that have worked out in the spill. But there’s no way to confirm the way they got there.
The distance between the western reach of the tar balls in Texas and the most eastern reports of oil in Florida is about 550 miles. Oil was first spotted on land near the mouth of the Mississippi River on April 29.
Published: 7:00AM BST 06 Jul 2010
Source: The Telegraph
The federal agency responsible for ensuring that an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was operating safely before it exploded last month fell well short of its own policy that inspections be done at least once per month, an Associated Press investigation shows.
Since January 2005, the federal Minerals Management Service conducted at least 16 fewer inspections aboard the Deepwater Horizon than it should have under the policy, a dramatic fall from the frequency of prior years, according to the agency’s records.
Scientists studying video of the gushing oil well have tentatively calculated that it could be flowing at a rate of 25,000 to 80,000 barrels of oil a day. The latter figure would be 3.4 million gallons a day.
“The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.”
Approximately 325,000 gallons of dispersant have been deployed so far in BP’s effort to break up the spreading oil slick before it hits the fragile Gulf coast, and over 500,000 gallons more are available.
The company acknowledged Friday that it had completed the final cementing of the oil well and pipe just 20 hours before the blowout last week.