By Nikki Buskey
Published: Wednesday, September 5, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 11:14 a.m.
Hurricane Isaac’s wind and waves unearthed oil buried since the 2010 BP oil spill and scattered tar balls along Grand Isle, Elmer’s Island and Fourchon Beach, state officials said.
The uncovered oil illustrates the need for continued cleanup and long-term monitoring along Louisiana’s coast, said Garret Graves, state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority chairman.
“The state and the parishes have raised strong concerns about BP’s less-than-adequate cleanup efforts,” Graves said. “What’s so amazing is that some of these areas are the same areas BP was declaring clean and trying to sign out of response while we were raising concerns and jumping up and down saying, ‘No, that’s ridiculous.’ ”
A BP spokesman said Wednesday that some of that oil is from the spill but said some may be from other sources, too.
“If there’s something good about this storm it made it visible where we can clean it up,” BP spokesman Ray Melick said.
BP still has hundreds of cleanup workers on the Gulf Coast after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded, killing 11 workers and leading to the nation’s largest offshore spill.
Melick said the company is working with the Coast Guard, state officials and land managers to clean up the oil on the Fourchon Beach. He said crews would be there today.
Ed Overton, a chemist and oil spill expert at Louisiana State University, said the exposed oil is weathered and less toxic, though it could still harm animals — such as crabs, crawfish and bait fish.
He said the storm helped speed natural processes that break down oil and it might take several more storms to stir up the rest of the oil buried along the coast.