Cleanup of California tar balls is completed

SAN FRANCISCO – The Department of Fish and Game ‘s (DFG) Office of Spill Prevention and Response and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) concluded tar ball cleanup operations today along California’s Central Coast beaches. Officials will continue to monitor the shoreline.

“After four days of cleanup, we are now seeing a significant decrease in the number of tar balls on beaches,” said Lieutenant Brian Arnold, DFG warden who was a member of the unified command. “The public will still find an occasional tar ball depending on weather conditions during the next couple of weeks, but this is to be expected this time of year.”

Tar balls began appearing on a 100-mile stretch of shoreline from Monterey to San Francisco counties on Monday. “Due to the unusually large number of tar balls found on beaches during this incident and concerns that it could be linked to the COSCO BUSAN spill, we conducted a very aggressive and well coordinated response” said Lieutenant Jessica Snyder of the U. S. Coast Guard.

Response crews have collected roughly 15 cubic yards of tar balls and oily debris over the past four days. However, officials say it will take some time to get a more accurate number. “Because the oily substance is mixed with sand, seaweed, sticks and other debris, we will have this analyzed by State quantification experts to determine the true amount of oil collected,” said Lieutenant Snyder.

In a coordinated effort with DFG, volunteers from the Pacifica area also stepped up to help in the response effort by walking area beaches and noting the occurrence of tar balls and looking for affected wildlife. Officials report that the impact to wildlife was minimal. Several dead birds were found but their cause of death is unconfirmed.

“We would like to thank the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Fish & Game and all the agencies that provided a tremendous response to the recent tar ball incident in Pacifica and San MateoCounty,” said Jim Vreeland, mayor of Pacifica. “The Coast Guard and Department of Fish & Game’s response in protecting our beaches and our wildlife is greatly appreciated and their partnership with local government was extraordinary.”
On Wednesday, test results from DFG’s petroleum laboratory showed that the tar balls were of a naturally occurring release from the ocean floor near Monterey. As the sea floor moves, oil is sometimes released and stormy weather often washes the substance ashore. DFG laboratory tests confirmed the tar balls were not from the COSCO BUSAN oil spill that occurred in November.

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