Tar Mat Produces Half Ton of BP Oil

Tar Mat Produces Half Ton of BP Oil

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The turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico wash ashore on part of the Gulf Island National Seashore near Fort Pickens. "It's a pretty remote area." It's also considered a hot spot for residual oil from the 2010 BP oil spill. On Thursday that reputation was confirmed. "I don't know if it was because of the sand shifting around or low tide or what," says environmental specialist Dominic Marcanio, "but this mat was exposed right in front of us."

The water is crystal clear and during routine monitoring of the beach the tar mat was spotted about seven feet from the surf line in about three feet of water.

"There is still some out there if you know where to look," says Marcanio. Photos show crews digging the tar mat out of the water. It covered an area 9 feet long and 9 feet wide and was anywhere from five to 7 inches thick. Marcanio helped dig it out. "On Thursday we found 1250 pounds that was removed by hand and went back today to make sure we got it all and we picked up another hundred pounds."

Three days a week Marcanio and other Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff walk the beaches looking for tar balls. "On an average survey day we find about three pounds of oil so to find 12 hundred pounds it was pretty significant." And one of the largest finds since the active monitoring of the beaches by BP ended in June of last year.

Since the end of the active Deepwater Horizon response in Florida 35 thousand tar balls and 1870 pounds of oil have been documented and removed from Florida's beaches as a result of National Response Center reports filed with the coast guard.

A BP spokesman gave us this comment:
"Ever since the Coast Guard transitioned Florida back to the National Response Center (NRC) reporting system in June 2013, BP has kept resources in place to quickly respond under the direction of the Coast Guard if NRC field evaluations determined that potential residual Macondo material has been identified and requires removal. The Coast Guard contacted us about this material the morning of Feb. 27 and our responders were at the location shortly thereafter. 
The material is located approximately 20 feet offshore and is three to four feet below the water surface. For safety reasons, we would typically use mechanical equipment in this type of location, and we have been working with the landowner to identify and utilize recovery methods appropriate for this situation. This is not new material, and it is heavily-weathered and consists mainly of sand, silt and other non-oil materials.”

 If you see oil or tar balls on any beach you are encouraged to call 1-800-424-8802 and report it.

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