Thursday, June 3, 2010

CNN Reporter Assists Texas Tech Researchers to Find Small Tar Balls at Dauphin Island

MOBILE , Ala. – CNN reporter John Zarrella assisted Texas Tech University scientists Wednesday in locating oil samples washing ashore on the public beach at Dauphin Island, Ala.

Researchers Ernest Smith and Mike Wages collected approximately a quarter pound of beached oil, which had eluded the researchers because of the small size, the changed appearance once mixed with sand and efforts by BP workers scouring the tourist spot.

“It looks more like sponge right now when it’s combined with the sand,” Smith said. “It’s a tribute to the workers how clean this beach is right now.”

Zarrella, the channel’s correspondent from Miami, said the beach had much improved since oil began washing ashore Tuesday and workers began clearing away the telltale red blobs now threatening to reach Florida by Friday.

“A lot of the stuff is gone,” Zarella said as he pointed out a small blob of oily paste mixed with sand. “That’s nothing compared to the size of the stuff out here earlier. It’s starting to fall apart.”

Smith said he would take the oil back to The Institute of Environmental and Human Health and compare the chemistry of the beached oil to that of the sample retrieved from the Gulf of Mexico by Mobile's WKRG weekend anchor Kimberly Curth.

As time passes, the oil changes composition as it comes up from the 5,000-foot depths of the exploded Deepwater Horizon rig and is exposed to air, sun, chemical dispersants and seawater.

Texas Tech researchers will travel to Baton Rouge Thursday for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Scientific Symposium at Louisiana State University. On Friday, they will return to Mobile to charter a boat and retrieve more samples from the ocean.

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