Key West Citizen - Tuesday, May 18, 2010 @ 07:50 AM
Coast Guard pollution investigators from Sector Key West have responded to a report of 20 tar balls found on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West, according to a statement released this morning.
Some 5 million gallons of crude has spewed into the Gulf and tar balls have been washing ashore in several states along the coast. Scientists are worried that oil is getting caught in a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.
The Coast Guard said it received notification from the Florida Park Service around 5:15 p.m. Monday of 20 tar balls ranging from three to eight inches in diameter.
Park rangers conducted a shoreline survey of Fort Zachary Taylor and the adjacent Navy beach at Truman Annex and reportedly recovered the tar balls at a rate of nearly three tar balls an hour throughout the day, with the heaviest concentration found at high tide, around 12:30 p.m.
A subsequent shoreline survey of the area revealed no additional tar balls.
Samples of the tar balls were will be shipped to a laboratory for analysis to determine the origin of the source, the Guard said.
The Coast Guard and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary plan to conduct shoreline surveys beginning this morning. An aerial search by a trained pollution investigator will also be conducted this morning, the Guard said.
The public is asked to report the sighting of any tar balls to the Coast Guard at 1-800-424-8802. Any oiled shorelines can be reported to 1-866-448-5816.
The public is reminded that tarballs are considered hazardous materials and should only be retrieved by trained personnel, the Guard said.