Coast Guard Responds to tar balls in Key West

KEY WEST, Fla. – Coast Guard pollution investigators from Sector Key West responded to a report of twenty tar balls found on the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park in Key West Monday.

Coast Guard Sector Key West received notification from the Florida Park Service around 5:15 p.m. Monday of twenty tar balls ranging in size from approximately 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 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.

Coast Guard pollution investigators from Sector Key West completed a subsequent shoreline survey of the area, and no additional tar balls were found.

Samples of the tar balls were collected and will be shipped to a laboratory for analysis to determine the origin of the source.

The Coast Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries (NOAA-FKNMS) will conduct shoreline surveys beginning Tuesday morning. Additionally, an aerial search utilizing a Coast Guard Helicopter with a trained pollution investigator on board will also be conducted Tuesday morning.

The public is asked to report the sighting of any tar balls to the U.S. 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.

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