Some blame dispersants for movement of tar balls into Lake Pontchartrain


Workers collected another 100 pounds of tar balls from Lake Pontchartrain by midday Wednesday after oil sneaked overnight past the barges placed at the Rigolets that are keeping the majority of the oily mess from entering the lake.
The tar balls are in addition to the 1,700 pounds of oily waste cleanup crews picked up since residents first reported seeing oil in the lake on Sunday.

St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said Wednesday that the dispersants being used to break down the oil in the Gulf of Mexico are causing the tar balls to travel underwater, later resurfacing beyond the protective walls of the barges. He urged officials with the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command to cease the use of dispersants, so crews can see the reddish-brown oil and fight it farther out.

Residents reported at least a dozen sightings of small tar balls Wednesday morning, and workers found tar balls as far west as Carr Drive near Slidell, about 1,600 feet west of the Twin Spans, said Suzanne Parsons Stymiest, the parish’s spokeswoman.

Crews also collected oil from the water near Treasure Isle and in the Oyster Factory Canal, she said. A total of 41 vessels spent Wednesday near the north shore, with the majority working in the Rigolets, Stymiest said.

The parish did not report how much waste was collected by day’s end.

BP has activated 26 vessels under the Vessels of Opportunity program, with 21 vessels reporting for duty Wednesday and the remaining five expected today, she said. Another 30 vessels are expected to be placed under contract to collect waste and conduct observation trips in the short term, Stymiest said.

In the meantime, anyone who sees tar balls or oil in the lake or anywhere else is asked to call the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command at 866.448.5816. Those reports are forwarded to St. Tammany, where workers immediately check the areas in question, Stymiest said.

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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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