The state is closing a 12-mile section of Gulf coastline from Caminada Pass to Pass Fourchon after Hurricane Isaac washed up large areas of oil and tar balls at the location of one of the worst inundations of BP oil during the Deepwater Horizon disaster of 2010. Robert Barham, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, said agency crews surveying damage from Isaac discovered large sections of viscous oil and tar balls floating along the coast from the beach to one mile offshore between Elmer's Island Wildlife Refuge, just west of Grand Isle, to Pass Fourchon.
"It's a very large mass that is viscous but hasn't coalesced into tar mats yet," Barham said. "But the Elmer's Island beaches are littered with tar balls of every size, from eraser size to the size of baseballs."
Samples will be analyzed by the LDWF and the state Department of Environmental Quality to determine if it originated from the Deepwater Horizon, Barham said.
In a statement issued late Tuesday, BP said it was too early to tell if the oil was from the Deepwater Horizon spill. "With many of the southern parishes of Louisiana still inundated with flood waters and not accessible at this time, it is premature to make any claims about possible oiling there -- whether it is from the Deepwater Horizon accident or any other source. We are awaiting test results on residual oil reported in an area west of Grand Isle, Louisiana. As state officials have made clear, it is important to fingerprint the residual oil to determine its origin. If any of it is connected to the Deepwater Horizon accident, BP stands ready to remove it under the direction of the Coast Guard's federal on-scene coordinator.
"In Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, shoreline quick assessments were initiated on Saturday, Sept. 1 and there have been no indication thus far of Deepwater Horizon residual oil in areas outside of existing cleanup operations. Despite these early indications, we will wait to draw firm conclusions until full surveys have been completed," the statement read.
Oil from that event often mixed with sand as it neared the coast and sank to the silty floor of the nearshore Gulf. But heavy weather has regularly dredged it up from the soft bottom, where waves carry it to the beach and even push it inside the marsh. The persistence of the oil has kept clean-up crews working along the coast since the April 2010 spill.
While the most toxic parts of raw oil quickly dissipate, the tar mats, tar balls and viscous sludge that reappear after storms remain a threat to fish, wildlife and humans, state authorities said. They can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, known carcinogens that can also disrupt endocrine systems in both humans and wildlife.
Barham cautioned the current discovery may not be the last. Crews are still inspecting other known Deepwater Horizon hot spots.
"Our people are still out conducting a thorough examination of the entire coast to check for storm impacts, including coast line erosion and oil, and we probably won't be finished for several days," he said. "Yes, we expected this could happen, but it's still very troubling."
LDWF crew are also reporting an oil structure in Barataria Bay leaking a small amount of oil. Clean-up crews were working that site, Barham said.
30px; border: solid 2px #333; color: #000; background-color: yellow; padding: 5px; width: 400px; z-index: 5; font-family: verdana, geneva, arial, helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: large;">
My blog has moved!You should be automatically redirected in 5 seconds. If not, visit redirectLink" href='http://blendz72.wordpress.com/'> http://blendz72.wordpress.com and update your bookmarks.