Tar balls continue to plague AL's shores - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tar balls continue to plague AL's shores

FORT MORGAN, AL (NBC) - After taking a break for the holidays, oil spill cleanup crews returned to find thousands of tar balls awash on Alabama's shores.

"Being off ten days like we were, got a little catch up to do here," said Wilber Ledet, project manager with CrowderGulf.

Ledet said as soon as his crews remove the tar balls on the north side of Fort Morgan, replacements find their way ashore.

"We get a beach clean, and we're thinking it's done," he said. "And a good wind comes back, and there it is again."

While that isn't good news for Mother Nature, it offers a glimmer of hope for the cleanup workers, who remain employed in the midst of a struggling economy.

"It's right back the next day. It is," said Joe Maher, a worker. "But it's also job security."

Because they work on a state park, Ledet's Fort Mogran crew can't use more developed equipment like the PowerScreen, a machine that can sort through thousands of pounds of sand every day. Instead, they work the old-fashioned way - by hand.

"We really like to leave it as natural as possible," Ledet said. "So we'll come in and do as much as we can by hand, sift it with nets. Seems primitive, but it's the best thing we've come up with so far."

The presence of the crews is felt by beach vacationers like Jean Larson.

"I think we suspected that we would see some of this," she said.

But Larson said the sight of so many tar balls won't prevent her return. She's a "snow bird" from Ohio who has been coming to the Alabama coast for nearly 20 years.

BP said there are approximately 1,000 workers in Alabama cleaning the shoreline on any given day.

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