Tarballs that washed ashore on beaches in Alabama and other Gulf of Mexico states following Tropical Storm Lee indicate that oil from the April 2010 BP oil spill is not adequately breaking down and poses long-term hazards to coastal ecosystems, according to an Auburn University study released this week. The study was conducted by the university’s engineering department prior to, during and following Tropical Storm Lee’s landfall and found that tarballs had an “essentially identical” chemical composition to samples taken in the immediate aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill. Research showed the tarballs were approximately 17 percent oil by mass, and researchers questioned the validity of assertions by BP that submerged oil had substantially dissipated. The study suggests that submerged tar mats near the coastline are breaking apart during tropical storms and hurricanes, which are remobilizing and redistributing oil-laden tarballs. According to the study, the findings support “the hypothesis that submerged oil may continue to pose some level of long-term risk to nearshore ecosystems.” BP had no initial comment on the Auburn research, but the company is continuing beach-cleaning efforts. If you suffered harm as a result of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill or if you were not properly compensated for your participation in BP’s Vessels of Opportunity (VOO) program, the experienced Mobile, Alabama, attorneys at Long & Long can evaluate your circumstances, help you determine if you have the grounds for legal action, and advise you on how to best proceed. Please contact us today for your free case consultation.

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