By Ben Raines, Press-Register
MOBILE, Alabama -- BP crews collected more than 3 tons of tarballs and buried tar mats from beaches in Alabama and Mississippi during the first 10 days of January.
Nearly two years after the BP spill, the company maintains a significant presence along the Alabama and Mississippi coastline, with dozens of workers patrolling the Gulf shoreline each week.
Large work barges and several support vessels were anchored at the western tips of Dauphin and Petit Bois islands Monday. Swarms of golf carts buzzed through the sand above the tide line, and workers equipped with scoops and garbage bags collected tarballs.
BP crews used a track hoe in the surf at the Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to collect a tar mat weighing 4,500 pounds late last week, according to the company. An additional 1,700 pounds of tarballs were collected on other Alabama beaches.
Ray Melick, a BP spokesman, said the crews walking the beaches on Petit Bois Island collect about 250 pounds of tarballs a day. He said that a tarball is about 20 percent oil, while the rest is composed of sand and other debris.
Crews have collected 2,533 pounds of tarballs in Mississippi since New Year’s Day, he said.