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.
BP says Hurricane Isaac's scouring waves exposed deposits of buried tar on the Louisiana coast that were left over from its massive oil spill in 2010. Louisiana officials closed a stretch of beach near Fourchon on Tuesday after scouts said they found large tar mats. BP acknowledged Wednesday the oil was from its spill.
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.