Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams Continue Tar Ball Response Along Florida Keys

KEY WEST, Fla.–(ENEWSPF)–May 21, 2010.  The Florida Keys Tar Ball Response incident command post and unified command, with representatives from the Coast Guard, NOAA’s Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Department of the Interior, and Monroe County, Fla. remains active in the containment, recovery and disposal of tar balls reported along the Florida Keys.

The unified command was established Tuesday after multiple reports of tar balls washing ashore along the Florida Keys were reported to the Coast Guard. Tarball samples have been tested at the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Laboratory in New London, Conn., and it has been confirmed that they are not from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill incident.

Multiple Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT) from the Coast Guard and contracted emergency response teams from Eagle-SWS have deployed since Monday to recover and remove tar balls from various coastline locations between Key West and Islamorada, Fla. The incident command post and unified command continues to actively monitor the situation and respond to reports of pollution.

SCAT confirmed and removed tar ball deposits from two locations along the Florida Keys Thursday. To date, there have been seven reported sites of tar balls along the Florida Keys. Pollution response and SCAT teams responded to and removed tar balls from all seven locations. There is no current need for volunteers at this time.

Weather permitting, the unified command will send response teams this Saturday and Sunday to several islands within the Dry Tortugas National Park to assess and clean up tar balls that have been reported to have washed ashore.

The public is asked to report the sighting of any tar balls to the Coast Guard at 1 (800) 424-8802.  Any oiled shorelines can be reported to 1 (866) 448-5816.

The public is reminded that tar balls are a hazardous material, which while not dangerous to most people can cause an allergic reaction and should only be retrieved by trained personnel.  All beaches on the Florida Keys remain open.