Some Texas tar balls not from leaking Gulf well

Fri Jul 9, 2010 11:12pm GMT
 

* New tar ball tests contradict initial link to BP well

* No Texas beaches have been closed due to spilled oil

HOUSTON, July 9 (Reuters) - Additional testing on tar balls that began appearing on Texas beaches over the July 4 holiday indicates only some of the crude may be linked to BP Plc's (BP.L: Quote) (BP.N: Quote) blown-out Macondo oil well, a state official said on Friday.

Initial tests on about five gallons of coin-sized tar balls which washed ashore over the long Fourth of July weekend on the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island south of Houston, showed the oil was similar to oil from the leaking well.

However, U.S. Coast Guard officials said further tests showed the tar was not consistent with oil from the damaged well, said Jim Suydam, a spokesman for the Texas General Land Office, overseeing the state's coastal cleanup effort.

Some tar balls collected in Jefferson County closer to the Texas/Louisiana border continued to match oil from the BP well, Suydam said.

Two days after the first tar balls came ashore, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott asked BP for $25 million to fund the state's clean-up effort and open a claims office in the state.

Other tar balls have been reported on beaches southwest of Houston and some fresher oil appeared on Galveston Island Thursday, but no Texas beaches have been closed and beach areas are working to attract tourists away from the four other coastal states already affected by the spilled oil.

Texas General Land Office Commissioner Jerry Patterson planned to visit Galveston Saturday to talk about impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill on Texas.

"We don't really care where they come from," said Suydam. "If there's a tar ball on the beach, we have to pick it up. We don't ask where they are from." (Reporting by Eileen O'Grady; editing by Todd Eastham)

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