Now we are seeing additional tar balls in Long Beach (in southern Los Angeles County).

This tarring pattern has become all too familiar.  We think we are done with the oil “rain,” then we get a highly patchy deposition event which tars beaches with moderate to light tar balls (and occasionally an oil sheen).  The event produces a highly variable deposition over several miles of coastline.  In turn, this leads some of the public who happened upon a relatively high concentration of tar balls  to say “oh my God, there is so much tar here compared to what we normally see here…this is horrible” and others who happen upon a low or non-existent level of tar say “oh my God, this is nothing and totally overblown…this is such a manufactured crisis.”  The Joint Incident Command will issue a press release saying it will take a long-time to chemically fingerprint the oil (see my previous post), but they will treat it as related to the Refugio oil spill until they get evidence otherwise.  They will then send in a bunch of contractors to walk the beach/pick-up the tar.

We saw this happen in southern Santa Barbara County.  Then northern Los Angeles County (the mid Santa Monica Bay/South Bay Cities).  Then Ventura County.  Then along the Malibu Coast…and now southern Los Angeles County.  If this petroleum is not pipeline oil, it is an amazing coincidence.

As of four hours ago, the LA Times is reporting:

Four miles of Long Beach coast closed after tar balls wash ashore

A four-mile stretch of the coast in Long Beach was closed Wednesday evening after tar balls washed ashore, threatening the safety of beachgoers, authorities said.

The small pieces of tar began spotting the sand earlier in the day between 1st Place and 72nd Place, said city fire department spokesman Jake Heflin.

Cleanup crews are working to remove the tar, he said.

The U.S. Coast Guard has collected samples of the tar balls for testing, which will help pinpoint the source of the petroleum product. Officials said there was no sign that the tar balls came from operations by the Long Beach Gas and Oil Department.

Laboratory testing will help investigators determine whether the tar traveled from Santa Barbara County, where a May 19 oil spill released as much as 101,000 gallons of crude. An estimated 21,000 gallons of oil spewed into the Pacific.

In recent days, tar balls have washed ashore in Ventura County, Malibu and the South Bay, where a nearly eight-mile section of the beach was closed for three days last week.

Long Beach city officials have advised people to stay away from beaches, cautioning that the tar may irritate skin or cause longterm health effects.

And now it more tar balls are hitting Orange County.

June 4 Update:

Others seem to also now be agreeing with our original worry about all these unusual “coincidences” as we called them for the past week.  David Valentine up in Santa Barbara is the most recent addition to those who have now taken to describing this sporadic, regional tarring event essentially as we have been (as in the most recent LA Times article on the patchy tar ball phenomenon):

“We get tar balls, but not droves of them, at one time, seemingly from one event,” said David Valentine…”I’m suspicious of a coincidence.”

Similarly,

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