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Large Chunks of Tar Wash Ashore South Padre Island

3 years 11 months 1 week ago Tuesday, February 14 2017 Feb 14, 2017 February 14, 2017 5:08 PM February 14, 2017 in News

UPDATE (2/16): Samples from tar that washed up on the shores of South Padre Island were sent off for testing.

Texas General Land Office experts said the tar samples were sent to a U.S. Coast Guard lab. Scientists will try to determine what chemicals are in the tar and where they may have originated.

GLO officials said the agency doesn’t plan to pursue any responsible party. They strictly compile evidence for a database to know what’s out in the ocean.

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND – Crews removed large chunks off tar on the shores of South Padre Island.

Experts said the tar most likely was pushed onto shore as Tuesday’s cold front rolled in. It’s a rare occurrence that took hours to clean up.

Dallas resident Kyle Page said their visit took an unexpected turn. He and his wife saw the large pieces wash up on shore.

“(We) saw two big, black objects where the water was ending, and we assumed they were logs,” he said. “Just kind of stratified, rubber looking material with, I don’t know the correct name, mussels growing on it.”

Page said the tar spread out for about half a mile behind the Bridgepoint Condominiums.

South Padre Island Shoreline director Brandon Hill said it’s unknown if the tar came from an old oil spill or an oil rig. He said he hopes it’s from a natural crevice in the ocean’s floor.

“The Gulf of Mexico is a very unique environment, it’s incredibly complex. And there are natural seeps that occur right off the sea floor where the tar like this will come up before several years, even before we see it,” he said.

Hill said the size of spectators in the area was dangerous.

“There is a potential that it could be hazardous. We didn’t believe this would be an issue for humans, but we just wanted to maintain the area and make sure that we could clean it up as efficiently as possible,” he said.

It took city, state and local agencies more than two hours to remove all the tar.

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office collected samples for testing. The rest of the tar will be disposed of at the GLO Office in Robstown. 

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