Coast Guard, Texas GLO & City of Galveston Respond to Tar Ball Sightings on Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula

Galveston – The U.S. Coast Guard, the Texas General Land Office, and the City of Galveston are responding to tar ball sightings along East Beach on Galveston Island and along Crystal Beach on Bolivar Peninsula. All beaches are open to the public, as the small tar balls pose little safety hazard to beach goers. Tar balls from natural oil seeps are not uncommon on Texas beaches.

The small tar balls, ranging in size from 1 to 3 centimeters in diameter, are very sporadic and consistent with the types of tar balls historically observed in these areas after a high tide or heavy weather event. There is a less than 1 percent coverage of small tar balls on the beach and oil spill response contractors are removing them quickly. All island beaches remain open.

“Coast Guard assessment teams discovered some small tar balls on East Galveston Island and on Crystal Beach early this morning. We immediately commenced clean-up operations and sent samples for laboratory analysis. While we await those results, no tar balls collected on Texas beaches to date have been associated with the Deepwater Horizon incident,” said Cdr. Jim Elliott, commanding officer of Marine Safety Unit Galveston. “We will continue to conduct daily beach assessments and regular overflights to protect our beaches.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), for most people, an occasional brief contact with a small amount of oil will do no harm. However, some people are especially sensitive to chemicals, including the hydrocarbons found in crude oil and petroleum products. In general, NOAA recommends that if oil contact occurs, the area be washed with soap and water, baby oil or another safe cleaning compound.

“Galveston beaches are open and welcoming visitors this holiday weekend,” reported Alicia Cahill, spokeswoman for the City of Galveston.

Anyone wishing to report an oil spill or tar ball sighting should call the Texas General Land Office at 1-800-832-8224. Visitors can contact the Galveston Island Visitors Center toll-free at (888) 425-4753 or stop by the visit center located at 2328 Broadway for tourism information.

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