COLLEGE STATION, Texas, July 6 (UPI) — Although tar balls from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill washed up in Texas, a large amount of oil reaching the state’s beaches is unlikely, an ocean expert said.
Piers Chapman, head of the oceanography department at Texas A&M University, said the tar balls found near Galveston recently were in such small amounts that the risk is slight for larger quantities of oil washing ashore on the Texas coast. The oil comes from the spill that has been active since April 20 when an oil rig exploded, killing 11 workers, then sank two days later, the university said Tuesday in a release.
“It’s hard to say if there will be a lot more, but the best guess is, not likely,” Chapman said. “What has been found in the Galveston area is a very small amount, something like only five gallons or so.”
Tar balls indicate a particular batch of oil has been in the water for a long time, perhaps several weeks, “so it’s much less of a problem than fresh oil,” he adds.
Chapman offered two possible scenarios for the tar balls in Texas: Hurricane Alex pushed them toward Texas or they’re from ships traveling near the oil spill en route to Texas ports.
“It’s very possible some more could reach Texas, but you will probably not see any large amounts. I don’t think these pose a major problem at the moment,” Chapman said. “I think you will see most of the oil continue to go north and east from the spill site, most likely away from Texas.”
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