Texas Gets Tarred: BP Spill Now Hitting All Gulf States

July 6, 2010 05:00

TEXAS CITY, Texas — More than two months after oil gushing from a blown-out well on the ocean floor first reached Louisiana, the relentless spread of crude has now washed up on every Gulf state after a bucket’s worth of tar balls hit a Texas beach.



GALVESTON — About a dozen tar balls that washed ashore on Crystal Beach were identified Monday as oil from the BP well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, the first evidence that oil from the spill has reached the Texas coastline.

But it was unclear whether the oil from the blowout dropped off a passing ship or drifted nearly 400 miles.

Laboratory tests showed that the tar balls came from the BP Macondo well that blew out April 20, killing 11 crew members on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig and spewing millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf, said Coast Guard Cpt. Marcus Woodring, commander of the Houston-Galveston sector.

The handful of tar balls came ashore Saturday and a second wave amounting to about 5 gallons of oil was found Sunday scattered along 1½ miles of beach on eastern Galveston Island and Crystal Beach on the Bolivar Peninsula, Woodring said. Laboratory results on the oil discovered Sunday are expected today, Woodring said.

An onslaught of tar balls on Galveston’s beaches would be disastrous for the island city’s tourism economy. Galveston Mayor Joe Jaworski hoped the tar balls were a one-time occurrence.

“It is such a small amount that I’m waiting to see whether more comes or not the next few days before getting really upset,” Jaworski said.

Tilman Fertitta, CEO of Landry’s Restaurants, said he’s not so worried about the tar balls because they’re a common sight in Galveston. He’ll be concerned, though, if it continues and swells into a problem like it has in other states along the Gulf Coast.

Landry’s has restaurants in Galveston, and a separate business controlled by Fertitta owns the San Luis Hotel, Hilton and IHOP restaurant there. Landry’s also owns the Kemah Boardwalk, a popular tourist spot.

Landry’s has lost millions in sales and suffered from higher seafood pricing since the spill occurred, he said, adding that the company is reviewing possible claims against BP.

Greater impact feared

The company buys much of its seafood from suppliers around the world, so it hasn’t been as heavily affected by local price jumps as others, he said. But as contracts run out, he expects to also be hit with higher prices.

“We’re suffering a huge impact now, but it will only get larger,” he said. “We hope Galveston continues to be a nonissue.”


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