We spent an hour or so on hands and knees picking up bits and slabs of tar that washed up from an unknown source today. While some have said that they’ve seen this happen before, the result of passing ships dumping waste, I’ve not experienced the saddening sight of black tar littering my most treasured place, my homebreak. I’ve been spending considerable amounts of time at this beach for the past 15 years or so and have never witnessed this quantity of tar on the beach. The news reports and local agencies are saying that it’s definitely not related to the Gulf spill, that the tar is totally harmless and that it’s old tar that no longer contains petroleum. Interestingly enough, they still advise people NOT to touch it (thus implying not to aid in cleaning up the beach).
Some have speculated that the tar balls are the result of oil dispersants sending tar balls deep underwater where they are rendered nearly impossible to track. Testing is underway to determine the origin of the oil.