Texas Officials Investigate Tar Ball Origins on State's Beaches
Texas officials have launched an investigation into the origins of tar balls appearing on the state's beaches. The Texas General Land Office's oil spill response teams are leading the investigation. Tar balls are formed when oil spots are carried away by the Gulf of Mexico currents. They then undergo a transformation under the sun, turning into asphalt-like balls.
An Unusual Increase in Tar Ball Sightings
The size of these tar balls can range from less than an inch to several feet in diameter. However, the ones that typically wash up on beaches are about the size of a coin. According to Galveston Island Beach Patrol Lt. Austin Kirwin, tar balls are a common sight on Texas beaches. However, their presence has significantly increased in recent days, prompting the investigation.
Determining the Source of the Oil
The land office's teams are currently collecting samples. Their aim is to determine whether the oil that forms these tar balls comes from one of the 600 known oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico.
Public Safety Concerns
Despite the unusual increase in tar balls, officials have assured the public that they do not pose a danger. If they come into contact with skin, they can easily be washed off with soap and water or baby oil.