GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Members of an international environmental group say it's time for independent researchers to determine what happened to millions of gallons of oil the Deepwater Horizon well leaked into the Gulf of Mexico. Greenpeace is funding three months of research on the long term impact of oil and dispersants on sea life.
The group was on Horn Island Wednesday; the same day BP, the Department of Marine Resources and the Department of Environmental Quality took WLOX out to Horn Island where cleanup work is continuing. In the area where they took our cameras, the sand look nearly pristine, like a tourism postcard.
However, Greenpeace took its footage on the Gulf side of the western end of Horn Island. That's where members of the environmental group found a black oily substance after digging a few inches into the sand. But they say most of the oil they saw was much easier to find.
Phil Kline is the Senior Ocean Campaigner.
"As soon as we got on the beach out on Horn Island, the beach was littered with tar balls. From little small finger nail sized pieces to pieces as big as Frisbees. And they just stretched as far as they eye could see."
Greenpeace USA and Greenpeace International believe the tar balls are an indication of a larger problem that's going on in the Gulf of Mexico.
"This is only the oil we can find. There's still millions of gallons of oil unaccounted for and that's part of what we're trying to discover with our ongoing research here in the Gulf. Research teams from half a dozen universities will spend months looking at Gulf health indicators. They'll gather scientific information on sponges, blue crab larvae, and whale populations and more. "
"First you need to get some scientifically credible data," said Kline. "So many of the projects we're involved in, scientists are gathering data that they then take to their lab and will analyze and publish their scientific results some time in weeks, months and years in the future."
He said, "It's time we get good independent research and not things that are filtered through the public relations department of BP."
The director of the Department of Marine Resources said the tar balls won't hamper the recovery of Horn Island. He said the oil Greenpeace saw is weathered, and will to continue to weather and go away like the typical tar balls that wash up all the time.