GALVESTON — Cleanup began Monday of globs of a wet, oily substance found mostly embedded in seaweed along roughly 2 1/2 miles of Galveston beach.

A European shipping company contracted with Phoenix Pollution Control & Environmental Services for the cleanup, which is expected to be completed by today, said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the Texas General Land Office.

The shipping company, however, had not come forward Monday as the party responsible for the substance accumulating on the beach along Galveston’s West End. The origin of the substance and how it arrived near Bermuda Beach remained under investigation Monday, Suydam said.

A beach-goer reported finding tar balls shortly before 8 a.m. Monday, said Elizabeth Rogers, a spokeswoman for the city of Galveston.

Firefighters and workers with the Galveston Island Park Board detected the globs mostly between Beach Pocket Park No. 2 and just west of Bermuda Beach. That area is a few miles west of the island’s seawall.

The city notified the U.S. Coast Guard and land office of the tar balls, Rogers said.

Just beyond the breaking surf, beach-goers saw clumps of tar balls and what appeared to be slick, black, wet oil clinging to the seaweed.

The saturation on the beach appeared to be less than 2 percent, Suydam said.

Coast Guard members Anthony Scott and Joseph Byrne collected samples and noted the geographical coordinates. Once tested at a laboratory, the samples could help the Coast Guard learn the origin of the substance.

(5) comments

Gary Miller

Tar balls have been a feature of Gulf Coast beaches for as long as I can remember. Natural seeps of oil leaking from the sea floor creates them.
As far back as 1941 we used a table knife and wet sand to clean our feet before putting our shoes back on. We also used the tar bals as fuel in the bonfires that were legal back then. The smoke helped keep mosquitoes away. A hand full of nearly dry seaweed every few minutes produced more smoke.

Kevin Lang

Hark! Are those chants of "Sue BP!" that I'm hearing?

Larry Kirkendall

LOL...naturally occurring tar balls or naturally, BP's at it again? With no other facts presented, I'm kinda leaning toward the tar ball theory.

Shelly Pearl

What IHOG said!

Karen Smith

There's been tarballs showing up on galveston beaches since I was a baby and that was a LONG time ago!

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