Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Mystery of the Black Stuff on the Beach

Some mysterious black stuff washed up on our southerly beaches over the last two days, which has the Town all in a tizzy now. Fortunately it is not oil and the black stuff isn’t really all that concentrated. But it’s right there where the waves wash up the beach, called the wrack line. Thank goodness it doesn’t stick to your feet like tar.

Nobody has seen anything like it. It more resembles a fine powder like black carbon soot. So far, the Coast Guard and General Land Office have ruled it is not hazardous, which only makes some of us MORE concerned. I just got off the phone with a reporter for our local paper, who said samples were sent to the local office for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; these people couldn’t ID it so they sent the stuff up to another region office in Corpus Christi that has more lab equipment.

Meanwhile, a large freighter ship sits ominously a mile or so east of the Jetties. I really can’t say it was a cause of anything, other than it was a coincidence that the black mystery stuff showed up after it anchored out there. Conceivably, the ship could have dumped some black stuff such as from:

  • Soot blowing to clean boilers and stacks
  • Cargo hold cleaning

The good news is that the black stuff is not thick in the water. Up at Access 14 by Oleander Street I didn’t see any in appreciable amounts - it was much more prevalent down by Access 5 and Marlin Street. I would have gone in the water except that the northerly wind set up a pretty messy chop, no good for fishing or body surfing. If indeed it turns out to be pure carbon, that stuff is completely OK in the environment.

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