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Tar balls are landing in Key West.

Oil Spill: Tar balls reported on Key West shores

Key West, Florida -- About 20 tar balls have washed ashore in Key West, the U.S. Coast Guard said Monday night.

They ranged in size from about three inches to about 8 inches.

They were found on beaches of the Fort Zachary Taylor and the adjacent Navy beach at Truman Annex.

The Coast Guard said they were recovered at a rate of about three tar balls an hour throughout the day. The heaviest concentration was found at high tide, shortly after noon.

Many of us have feared that oil would be transported by the Loop Current to remote destinations in the Gulf of Mexico and beyond since news of the undersea gusher broke.  Just yesterday, word broke that a huge plume of subsurface oil had been detected with remote sensing technology:

Underwater oil plumes could create new 'dead zone' in Gulf

Researchers with the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology discovered evidence of huge undersea plumes of oil - one reportedly 15 to 20 miles long and four or five miles wide - which were already beginning to deplete the oxygen in nearby water by as much as 30 percent.

Even though tar balls are coming ashore in the Florida Keys, NOAA thinks that all of those NOAA-funded scientists at the National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology are "premature" in their findings of a massive underwater plume:

NOAA is skeptical of oil-plume reports

Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, called media reports of large underwater oil plumes "premature," adding that research conducted by an academic ocean institute was inconclusive.

Sorry, but that is a pathetic response and I am getting seriously tired of listening to government officials, BP public relations pundits, and media hacks (Rachel, Shep Smith, et al. excluded) who are unwilling to acknowledge the enormity of this ecological catastrophe.

To summarize:

  1.  Tar balls are now in Key West.
  1.  Nobody thought oil would reach Key West this soon.
  1.  There is a massive underwater plume of oil and gas that BP, the government, and the traditional media have largely ignored.

We can send Rovers to Mars but BP and the U.S. government can't figure out how to stop this damn thing from gushing?  How many ecosystems will we have to kill before the people in charge really start to give a shit and bring competent problem solvers on board?

UPDATE: Fishgrease adds his 2¢:

NOAA -- Let's get it right

This leak is not old enough to produce tar balls. This leak is producing oil globs. There's a difference.


It is tar. Mostly asphaltenes. Asphalt. Tar. Notice it is black. It is actually relatively harmless.


It is mostly oil. Note it is not black. It is brown. It is NOT relatively harmless. It is nasty nasy nasty and contains all sorts of nasty stuff besides asphaltenes. It can seep into soils and sand. Tar balls cannot. Oil blobs (Oil-Jello) are most likely caused by dispersant.

If it's black and gummy, it did not come from this leak. If it's brown and loose and gooey, it DID come from this leak and you need to quit calling it a tar ball.


The tar balls landing in Key West do NOT appear to have come from the massive offshore gusher.  They look like the tar balls above, NOT the brown oil blobs that resemble diarrhea.


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Originally posted to geodemographics on Tue May 18, 2010 at 02:25 AM PDT.

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