Pollution left in wake of Isaac

September 4, 2012 

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Weathered oil in the form of tar has washed up on some Louisiana beaches from Gulf waters churned by Hurricane Isaac, prompting restrictions of fishing in some waters and tests to determine whether the source is submerged oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"I'd say there's a smoking gun," said Garret Graves, Gov. Bobby Jindal's top adviser on coastal issues. He said tests were being done to verify the source of the oil.

"It's an area that experienced heavy oiling during the oil spill," he said.

Officials Tuesday evening restricted fishing in waters extending a mile off a roughly 13-mile stretch of coastline from Port Fourchon eastward to just west of Caminada Pass.

Recreational rod and reel fishing can continue but commercial and recreational shrimping, crabbing and commercial fin fishing was prohibited there.

The state Wildlife and Fisheries Department said there was a large mat of tar on one beach and concentrations of tar balls on adjacent beaches. Graves said later surveys found several more mats. The size of the tar mats was not immediately clear. Graves said high water has prevented a thorough examination.

A BP spokesman said the company would have a statement later Tuesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Coast Guard Capt. Peter Gautier said the Coast Guard is investigating about 90 pollution cases in the wake of Hurricane Isaac.

They include six minor leaks and oil sheens from sources such as tank batteries and wellheads. Such leaks are expected after hurricanes, he says.

Gautier says oil found on about eight birds at Myrtle Grove came from storage tanks at a closed terminal.

In Braithwaite, chemicals leaked into water and air from tanks at a storage facility, but all are under control, he said.

Gautier said some railroad tank cars containing hazardous chemicals overturned during the storm but are secure. Isaac also grounded three deep-draft ships, he says, but the vessels are not leaking.

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