While Alabama beaches and coastal waters appear to be clean more than a year after the nation’s worst ever oil spill, researchers warn that thick slabs of oily tar lurk unseen just feet from the sand. According to a recently-released study from Auburn University’s engineering department, tarballs churned up and deposited along the Alabama coast earlier this month by Tropical Storm Lee have almost the same chemical makeup as samples taken from “oil mats” immediately after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil mats are created as spilt oil settles out of the water and collects on the bottom of the seafloor.

According to the study, the tarballs that were tested contained roughly 17 percent oil by mass. This evidence stands in sharp contrast to the widely held notion that the vast majority of the 200 million gallons of oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill are substantially weathered and largely devoid of dangerous aromatic hydrocarbons. As is stands, oil mats are likely to remain a serious threat to the ecosystem of the Gulf coast for many years to come, breaking up into tarballs any time a disturbance moves through.

BP spokesperson Scott Dean responded to the Auburn study by saying that it “doesn’t change our commitment to the response; we’ll continue to have crews out collecting tarballs as the reports come in”.

If you or a loved one have been hurt offshore and are unable to work, contact the experienced Jones Act Lawyers at Zehl & Associates today for a free, confidential consultation regarding your rights under the Jones Act: 1-888-302-3838.

Source: Reuters

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