More than two months after oil gushing from a blown-out well on the ocean floor first reached Louisiana, the relentless spread of crude has now washed up on every Gulf state after a bucket’s worth of tar balls hit a Texas beach.
The crude is still moving, but the fleet of skimmers tapped to clean the worst-hit areas of the Gulf of Mexico is not. A string of small storms has made the water too choppy for the boats to operate for more than a week off Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.
The number of tar balls discovered in Texas is tiny compared to what has coated beaches so far in other Gulf states. Still, it provoked the quick dispatch of cleaning crews and a vow that BP will pay for the trouble.
“Any Texas shores impacted by the Deepwater spill will be cleaned up quickly and BP will be picking up the tab,” Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson said in a news release.
The oil’s arrival in Texas was predicted Friday by an analysis from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which gave a 40 percent chance of crude reaching the area.
“It was just a matter of time that some of the oil would find its way to Texas,” said Hans Graber, a marine physicist at the University of Miami and co-director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.
About five gallons of tar balls were found Saturday on the Bolivar Peninsula, northeast of Galveston, said Capt. Marcus Woodring, the Coast Guard commander for the Houston/Galveston sector. Two gallons were found Sunday on the peninsula and Galveston Island, though tests have not yet confirmed the oil’s origin.