Tests Link Mysterious Tar Balls to Santa Barbara Oil Spill

The results are in and, as many suspected, at least some of the mysterious tar balls that washed up along beaches in Los Angeles and Ventura counties last month originated from the May 19 Santa Barbara oil spill. The suspicions were confirmed in a press release by state officials and the Texas pipeline company Monday, following testing of the material.

While not all of the material found could be linked to the spill, some of it was sure to have originated in Santa Barbara. For instance, a separate analysis of six tar ball samples revealed that two contained oil from the ruptured pipeline.

“This news underscores how dangerous oil spills are to our precious coastline,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) said Monday. “That’s why I am firmly against coastline drilling, whether it’s in Hermosa Beach or in the Arctic.”

According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, low levels of tar balls are typical on beaches and are “most commonly from offshore seepage from fissures in the sea bed.” The massive quantities that began washing ashore in Los Angeles and Ventura, however, stunned many and prompted L.A. officials to close seven miles of shoreline.

Alas, it appears the mystery has been solved.

Read more about Monday’s announcement here.

Image Credit: Flickr User neilarmstrong2, https://flic.kr/p/9jV6RB via (CC BY-ND 2.0)