Clean-up crews picking "oil patties" from Biloxi beach - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Clean-up crews picking "oil patties" from Biloxi beach

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

BILOXI, MS  (WLOX) -  Oil patties continue washing ashore along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. One of the areas hardest hit is the beach in Biloxi, just east of Rodenberg Avenue. That's where hundreds of clean-up workers spent the day shoveling the gooey oil by-products into plastic garbage bags.

A small army of clean-up workers converged on the shoreline between Rodenburg and St. Charles Avenues Tuesday. Shovels and rakes are the primary tools as hundreds of sticky tar patties are dropped into plastic bags.

"Basically, the form they're coming in, that's the only way you can get it," explained Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver. "And yeah, they've got 1700 employees ready to go. We've got them scheduled to come in early in the morning and work until ten o'clock at night. And plans are in place, if we have to go to night ops, they can work 24-7 if need be."

The task is slow and methodical.  As large numbers of workers tackle the clean-up, the storm-stirred surf continues pushing oil patties onto the sandy shore.

"It is sad. I think we had opportunity to keep it from coming in if we'd have just had the skimmers and the right equipment and the communication," said Board of Supervisors President Connie Rockco. "And if they'd have untied our hands. I think we're the type of people in Harrison County and Hancock and Jackson that really get the job done."

The tar balls have the consistency of peanut butter and the color of chocolate.  They range in size from some as small as a coin, to others as large as a dinner plate.

After dodging the bullet for the past two months, the arrival of oil on Harrison County's sand beach was certainly expected, but still disheartening.

The sand beach director said the focus now is on dealing with the unwanted mess.

"Get it out of here, clean it up. Let's keep the beaches open. Got a big Fourth of July weekend coming up, so we're trying to do everything we can. I know it's going to be a bit of a challenge. We're trying to do things to mitigate the extent of oil on the beach, but also make it accessible for people to come out and enjoy it during this difficult time," said Weaver.

Weaver said it appears the patches of oil patties are moving slowly westward.

Crews also worked to pick up tar balls that washed ashore Tuesday in Gulfport.  Officials said they found tar patties near Debuys Road as well as Cowan and Courthouse Roads.

Weaver expects them to begin showing up on the beach in Long Beach and Pass Christian in the next few days.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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