AU researchers link tar found on AL beaches to BP oil spill - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

AU researchers link tar found on AL beaches to BP oil spill

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -

Scientific testing and researchers at Auburn University have confirmed a link between oil from the massive BP spill and tar balls found on Alabama beaches after Hurricane Isaac.

"So what this tell us is that over this period of time this oil really hasn't degraded very much for these particular compounds we are looking at," said Dr. Joel Hayworth, AU Civil Engineering Associate Research Professor.

"This is a long-term problem," said Dr. Prabhakar Clement, AU Civil Engineering Professor. "We were stuck with this oil problem, we definitely want to know, at least the local government, wants to know when will we get our beaches back and that is the question we are trying to address."

After the storm passed, Auburn researchers collected pounds of tar balls along the entire Alabama coast line.

"We're pretty convinced that this oil is relatively fresh and what that means is that these aren't tar balls that were sitting on the beach, these are things that were out there, past the water line somewhere," Hayworth said.

Dr. Clement and Dr. Hayworth want to make it clear that they do not believe the tar found will affect the health of tourists or marine life.

"We do not think it's an immediate health risk to tourists," Clements said. "Do we know it's a 100 percent safe? Probably not, because we will never know, there are several unanswered questions."

BP is holding a media briefing in New Orleans to discuss its response after Isaac in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

Copyright 2012 WTVM. All rights reserved.

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