Beach Report: Tar Hits Mississippi Mainland


Well, tar balls arrived on Mississippi’s mainland beaches yesterday…just in time for peak vacation season. The locals in Pascagoula, Mississippi, are calling them “mousse patties.” The city’s mayor, Robbie Maxwell, reported to the Press-Register that: “We’ve been preparing to attack it when it hit our shores, and that’s exactly what we’ve done.” Big kudos to local officials, like Maxwell, for their courageous efforts to battle the oil. They find themselves caught up in the delicate balancing act of keeping beaches open to protect the flat-lining tourism industry and closing them to protect vacationers.

Notable beach reports and oil sightings:

Dauphin Island: Aerial surveys show a massive body of light oil completely surrounding the island. On Saturday, cleanup crews removed more than 2,700 pounds of tar balls from the west end of the island, where large amounts of oil have been washing up on shore.

Gulf Shores: Local officials issued “double red flag” warnings at the public beach. Long bright orange streams of oil came ashore at hide tide. Yesterday (Sunday), locals reported smelling a hint of oil in the air, and on the beach, vacationers were few and far between.

Orange Beach: Local reports indicate oil has made landfall at Romar Beach Access and the Perdido Beach resort.

It will no doubt be a long, hot, anxious summer along the Gulf Coast.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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