Local, state and federal officials held a press briefing this afternoon to say that tar balls found on the Bolivar Peninsula have been associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and tar balls found on Galveston beaches are being tested.
Section Houston-Galveston Coast Guard Commander Captain Marcus Woodring and Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski had statements.
"On Saturday, July 3 we got a report of some tar balls over on Crystal Beach and we went over to investigate," Woodring said. "We found some tar balls in the surf, not on the beach. The largest one we found was about the size of a ping pong ball."
Woodring said tests of the tar balls "came back positive as a match to the Deepwater Horizon event". He said "nickel to dime size" tar balls were found on Crystal Beach and the east end of Galveston Island, but those have not yet been linked to Deepwater Horizon.
He noted that the weathering of the tar balls makes him believe that they arrived as ballast or on the hull of a ship rather than part of the spreading oil spill.
"It's about 400 miles," Woodring said about the distance from the actual spill site. "And in that time the oil would be emulsified. These tar balls that we picked up were a little more tacky. So there are some other theories out there."
Woodring said that no new incidents of tar balls were reported today.
Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski, who spent part of the weekend entertaining guests on Galveston's beaches, said he is cautiously optimistic.
"I spent four hours in the water yesterday," he said. "It was wonderful."
Jaworski said he is concerned about the tar balls.
"Clearly I am alarmed at the revelation that some tar balls have been positively identified as from Deepwater Horizon," Jaworski said. "Not a good thing; but, I keep in mind two things."
Jaworski said the tar balls found thus far is "a small amount of oil, so that it's inconsistent with the thought that our time has come and the oil has finally hit our shores".
His second remark concerned the Unified Command and its cooperation with the Coast Guard and the Texas General Land Office.
Woodring said the tar balls found over the weekend have been removed.
"We cleaned them up," he said. "We have a contractor, T&T Marine, on standby. If we get any more reports of tar balls out there, they will respond immediately and clean those up."