More Tar Ball Sightings Reported In Fla. Keys
Officials Think Oil Spill Could Reach Key West By Sunday
POSTED: 10:56 pm EDT May 17, 2010
UPDATED: 4:59 pm EDT May 18, 2010
KEY WEST, Fla. -- Tar balls are starting to appear on Florida Keys beaches.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said 20 tar balls were found on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park late Monday afternoon, and less than 24 hours later crews responded to three more reports of tar ball sightings at Smathers Beach in Key West, Big Pine Key and Loggerhead Key.
The tar balls range from 3 to 8 inches in diameter.
Some tourists and residents said news of tar balls already reaching the Keys is "not good at all."
"Not just for us but for the whole environment," tourist Michael Repenning said. "It's terrible."
Phil Simmons said he has lived in Key West for 25 years.
"What you see is what we're used to, and we're very afraid of losing it," Phil Simmons said.
The tar balls found off Key West were sent to a Connecticut lab for analysis.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration spokeswoman Jane Lubchenco said aerial surveys show some tendrils of light oil close to or already in the loop current, which circulates in the Gulf and takes water south to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Stream.
But most oil is dozens of miles away from the current.
Lubchenco said it will take about eight to 10 days after oil enters the current before it begins to reach Florida, but scientists from the University of South Florida are forecasting it could reach Key West by Sunday.