Louisiana state officials are clashing with the U.S. Coast Guard’s top ranks over BP’s cleanup efforts in the wake of Hurricane Isaac, which blew across Louisiana during the last week of August and produced a giant storm surge that churned up submerged oil and tar from BP’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.
According to the Times-Picayune, Garret Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, failed to gain assurances from Coast Guard Captain Duke Walker that the search for oil dredged up by Isaac would be expanded beyond locations other than those the state or general public reported. BP and the Coast Guard are jointly responding to reports of oil contamination in about 89 areas, but are not taking the initiative in searching for oil and tar along most parts of the Louisiana coast that aren’t already part of the ongoing oil-spill cleanup efforts.
As of Wednesday, BP contractors had removed 22 tons of tar mat washed up on Elmer’s Island in the Southeastern region of the state by Isaac in addition to a large volume of tar found along nearby beaches. Liquid oil and several tar mats have also been found in other parts of the coast, prompting state officials to request a thorough search of beaches and wetlands in between areas known to be contaminated.
In Alabama, chemical analyses conducted by Auburn University researchers show that nearly all of the tar washing up on beaches comes from BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill. According to the Auburn University report, tar balls directly linked to the BP oil spill are hundreds to thousands of times more common on beaches than another kind of tar deposit that has been found in the Gulf for several years.
The researchers also found that chemicals in the tar collected from Orange Beach and other parts of the Alabama coast have barely broken down since the 2010 oil spill, triggering concerns of additional environmental pollution every time a tropical storm or hurricane passes through the region.