Tests show oil on La. beaches came from 2010 BP spill

Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS — Laboratory tests show that globs of oil found on two Louisiana beaches after Hurricane Isaac came from the 2010 BP spill.

Tests run by Louisiana State University for state wildlife officials confirmed that oil found on Elmer’s Island and Grand Isle matched the biological fingerprint of the hundreds of millions of gallons of oil that spewed from BP’s Macondo well.

On Wednesday, BP PLC said oil from its spill had been exposed by Isaac’s waves and that the company would work to clean it up.

Ed Overton, the LSU chemist who did the state tests, said the oil found on Elmer’s Island had not degraded much while oil at Grand Isle had.

“Both were good solid matches on Macondo oil,” Overton said.

Two other samples collected from another barrier island did not match the signature of oil from the BP well.

Experts expected that hurricane waves would stir up oil buried along the Gulf Coast and that Isaac, which made landfall on Aug. 28 and soaked the region in the days afterward, apparently did just that. Reports of tar balls washing up on beaches after the storm were reported in Alabama and Louisiana, two states that got hit hard by BP’s massive offshore oil spill.

On Tuesday, scouts found what they described as a large tar mat on the beaches of Elmer’s Island, prompting state officials to close a 13-mile stretch of beach and restrict fishing along that shoreline.

On Thursday, BP said the company expected to see “residual oil” after Isaac. The company said the tar balls and tar mats found after Isaac were in places where the company had ongoing cleanup operations.

The company said oil found after Isaac would be sampled to see if it matched that from the Macondo well. The company has said some oil may not be from its well. The company cleanup work in Florida and Alabama has resumed while crews were expected to start work Friday in Louisiana. Work in Mississippi has been delayed due to extensive debris in areas where it wants to send teams, BP said.

“If there’s something good about this storm, it made it visible where we can clean it up,” BP spokesman Ray Melick said on Wednesday.

The spill began after the explosion of the BP-leased drilling rig Deepwater Horizon on the night of April 20, 2010. The blast killed 11 workers and started the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. Beaches, marshes and seafood grounds from Louisiana east to Florida were fouled for months.

BP has been running TV ads touting Gulf Coast tourism and urging people to “come on down.”