Tarballs Key West Florida?

As BP works at containing its devastating oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, tarballs have been discovered on Florida’s Key West, causing concerns the oil spill has already reached the Gulf’s powerful Loop Current.

Investigators from Key West Florida urged calm and sent samples of the three- to eight-inch flattened tar balls to a lab in Groton, Conn., to determine whether they had come from the massive leak in the Gulf of Mexico or perhaps oil remnants from a passing ship.

Results from the tests should be known within a couple of days as Florida’s tourism industry braces for the potential devastation.

If these tarballs belong to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, then Florida's tourism is in big trouble.

asked by Holly in Geography | 1722 views | 05-19-2010 at 07:45 PM

Tests were being done to confirm whether the globs of concentrated oil discovered on the Key West island resort on Monday came from BP's ruptured undersea well. Meanwhile, officials in Florida said their $60 billion-a-year tourism industry has already been hammered by a wave of cancellations.

"We believe it is unlikely [the tar balls] are from the Gulf oil spill, but we'll know for sure in a couple of days," said Key West Mayor Craig Cates. "While we are concerned about what will happen, we are trying to keep a positive attitude."

Coast Guard Sector Key West received notification from the Florida Park Service about the tar balls around 5:15 p.m.

Park rangers conducted a shoreline survey of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park 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.

If the tarballs are confirmed as part of the BP spill, it would be the southernmost and easternmost reaches thus far from the spill. It is now believed the BP calamity may surpass the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill near Alaska, making it the worst environmental disaster in US history.
Some experts believe the oil spill is already caught up in the Loop Current that moves around the Florida Peninsula. If so, oil may end up in the Florida Keys and on up the east coast of the US.

Tarballs and oil pollution from the spill have reached the shorelines of Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. To date, some government and petroleum officials say the oil spill has had minimal impact on Gulf Coast wildlife and shorelines.

Tarballs are considered hazardous materials and should only be retrieved by trained personnel.

The Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded April 22, killing 11 men. That caused the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

answered by Dennis | 05-19-2010 at 07:48 PM

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