U.S. Coast Guard officials will oversee cleanup of tar “patties” that washed up on Cocoa Beach this week and were in the process of arranging the cleanup Thursday afternoon.
“There’s no specific spill or release tied to it,” said Steve Lehmann, a spokesman for the Coast Guard. “They seem to be pretty naturally occurring. As we move forward, there might be some testing involved.”
The first priority is cleaning up the tar, Lehmann said.
City fire officials were staging the cleanup Thursday afternoon and an Orlando contractor was expected to finish the cleanup by Thursday evening, said Melissa Byron, the city’s director of marketing and economic development.
Pancake-sized globs of tar dotted the beach between 4th Street South and 9th Street South.
The tar stuck to toes Thursday and blighted the Space Coast’s most popular beach for tourists.
While it’s often difficult to pinpoint an exact cause, an offshore oil spill or natural upwelling are thought to be the typical causes of the tar on the beach. The larger chunks could be a result of the manner in which the oil clumped together after the spill or upwelling.
Ships burn fuel oil that’s difficult to distinguish from the crude that flows up naturally from the ocean floor.
Large vessels take on and release ocean water from their bilges to balance the ship. By federal and international law, ships are supposed to filter the oil from the bilge water before discharging at sea. The extracted oil is then reused, incinerated or off-loaded at port.
If the oil seeped up from the ocean floor, winds can blow it in from afar, not necessarily from a natural seep nearby.
READ MORE: http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/local/environment/2015/11/05/tar-washes-up-on-cocoa-beach-brevard-county-florida/75207828/