4 Miles of SoCal Coast Reopens After Tar Ball Cleanup - NBC New York
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4 Miles of SoCal Coast Reopens After Tar Ball Cleanup

Mayor Robert Garcia: "We are investigating whether there is any connection to the Santa Barbara spill"

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    Four miles of beach where tar balls had washed ashore were reopened to the public in Long Beach Friday morning.

    The stretch of beach were closed since Wednesdy, when the unidentified globs of petroleum appeared. Work crews spent the night on the beach during the cleanup along the shore from 1st to 72nd place, according to a news release from the Long Beach Fire Department.

    Long Beach's fire chief has said the tar balls were "considerably larger" than what normally appear on Southern California beaches, though tar balls and tar patties have been reported on beaches up and down the SoCal coast for over a week.

    Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement released Friday afternoon that the source of the tar balls remained unknown.

    Tar balls have been reported on beaches from Ventura County to Seal Beach. It remains unclear if their sudden presence is related to an oil spill in Santa Barbara that dropped thousands of gallons of crude oil in the ocean at Refugio State Beach.

    "We are investigating whether there is any connection to the Santa Barbara spill," Garcia said.

    Coast Guard officials have said after other tar ball sightings that samples were being analyzed. Officials in Long Beach have said they were testing oil found on their shore as well.

    The Long Beach tar balls haven't caused any health issues, Garcia said, and while "a few birds did unfortunately encounters some of the tar balls," they were cared for and released by local animal care workers.

    The LBFD advises anyone who sees a petroleum-based product on the beach avoid it and report it to the National Response Center hotline at 800-424-8802 and lifeguards at 562-570-1360.