A new chemical analysis shows that virtually all the tar balls now washing on to the Alabama coast are directly linked to the BP oil spill more than two years ago.
The report released Thursday by Auburn University says that tar balls caused by the spill are hundreds to thousands of times more common than another type of asphalt-like tar deposit that's been in the Gulf for years.
Scientific testing has confirmed a link between oil from the massive BP spill and tar found on Alabama beaches after Hurricane Isaac.
Auburn University researcher Joel Hayworth said Tuesday a chemical analysis showed that tar balls collected after Isaac were associated with the type of oil spilled after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in 2010.
Auburn researchers collected about 15 pounds of tar balls after the storm, and officials from Gulf Shores and Orange Beach picked up still more.
Officials say they're finding tar balls on Alabama's beaches in the wake of Hurricane Isaac's landfall last week.
Representatives from the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach said Wednesday workers are seeing significantly more tar deposits on the sand than before Isaac struck. The tar is weathered and old, and it's not considered dangerous.
The cities believe tar is breaking off from large, submerged mats that were left from the BP oil spill in 2010. But tests have yet to confirm whether the tar is linked to the BP well or something else.
Residents along the Gulf Coast are beginning to survey the damage left in Hurricane Isaac’s wake. Some University of Alabama research students are also assessing the impact of the storm. Four UA graduate students went to New Orleans and braced themselves against the high winds and heavy rains for research. John Mason is one of those students.
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Carnival Cruise Lines has canceled plans to dock its ship Elation in Mobile and is sending the ship to its regular port in New Orleans.
Carnival had originally announced plans to temporarily dock the ship in Mobile due to the remnants of Hurricane Isaac. But Carnival now says an assessment of the port facilities in New Orleans shows the ship can dock normally.
Mobile used to be a cruise port, but Carnival pulled out because profits weren't sufficient. The city is trying to find another company to dock ships at its $20 million cruise terminal.
Life is returning to normal on Alabama's coast after a brush with Hurricane Isaac, but not completely.
Schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties resume class Thursday after a three-day break for the storm, and seas are expected to continue falling as remnants of Isaac slowly move off the coast.
But forecasters say southwest Alabama could receive several more inches of rain before the tropical precipitation bands end. And storms could continue inland like the cells that prompted tornado warnings on Wednesday.
Waves crash into the public fishing pier at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Ala., shortly before Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012. Crews removed flooring panels from the pier to prevent damage.
The gulf is churning large waves and white foam on Alabama's coast and the wind from Isaac is still whistling around buildings. But beachfront walkways and other structures along the shore appear intact.
Lights are still on Wednesday morning in Orange Beach and a few cars are traveling the beach road. Louisiana took the brunt of Isaac after the hurricane shifted west and gave Alabama only a glancing blow.