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Tar balls on Oak island likely not from Gulf spill

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OAK ISLAND, N.C. (AP) - Coast Guard investigators are searching for the source of tar clumps that washed ashore on a North Carolina beach.

Multiple media organizations reported Thursday that the head of the Wilmington Coast Guard unit which investigates spills at sea says it's unlikely the black balls came from the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Commander John Nadeau says it's not unusual to find tar balls that wash up on beaches. He says oil in the water from any source turns into a putty-like substance after the oil collects particles.

Nadeau says about three dozen clumps filling a half-gallon container were collected along Caswell Beach.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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OAK ISLAND, NC (WWAY) -- Vacationers in Oak Island were greeted with an expected sight today as tar balls washed up on shore. Tar balls are remnants of an oil spill. They're sticky and dark in color.

The vacationers who found this tar ball say they've seen several more on the beach. At first they didn't know what to think.

"We weren't sure what it was until we saw Good Morning America this morning, and they had the exact replica of the tar that had been from the oil spill," said Larissa Stanley, who was visiting from Fayetteville.

We called the Oak Island Coast Guard Station to see if they knew where these tar balls came from, but we were the first ones to inform them.

The federal government today said tar balls that have washed up in the Florida Keys are not from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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Longtime Brunswick County / Oak Island Resident

Yes, it is coincidence that these have been found right now. Please notice that the beach water at Oak Island and Caswell is not clear like Wrightsville Beach water. This turbidity is the natural result of the sediment that flows out of the Cape Fear River. And as there are many industries,the State Ports with International Shipping, etc, I think the source is much closer to home than the Gulf of Mexico.

I moved to Long Beach in 1979. You see these every so often, it wasn't something that was freakish or a cause for alarm.

Regarding the cooling system, the inlet to the cooling channel is located in the Cape Fear River. But as this cooling system is a closed loop system, essentially a big heat exchanger, like your car's radiator. The engine oil and coolant don't mix, so what flows into the channel, flows right back out.

where is the cooling water

where is the cooling water intake for the nuke plant?

Okay then where did they come from??

Im sorry but the gulf oil spill is much bigger than they thought and they are trying to cover up the extent of it..so I guess those tar balls came from another oil spill on the east coast???

Buy a clue!

Since the first traces of oil are just now showing up in the Florida Straits, how do you explain its magical appearance here - large seagulls airlifting it? Teleportation?

Every single day, tens of thousands of gallons of oil enter coastal waters.

Boats sink. Unscrupulous people dump barrels of contaminated oil into the ocean. Careless marine mechanics use too much grease that drops into bilges and get pumped into the ocean.

Talk to anyone who swam at the East Coast beaches in the Forties and Fifties and they'll tell you how tarballs were as common as seashells because of tankers seeping oil after being sunk by the Germans in the early Forties.

Tarballs on beaches are far better than floating oil entering marshes. Tarballs are the result of nature's oil absorbers. And no, these could not have come from the current BP leak in the gulf. How fast do you think that current flows?

so is it coincidence then that we are seeing tarballs now?

I have been living in Wilmington all my 37 years and have NEVER seen a tarball wash up on shore..NEVER seen a news story about one..so of all these oil spills that happen every day as you claim, why all of sudden we get these balls just when the huge oil spill happen in the gulf..you get a clue and stop living out there in la la land thinking the government or big corporations arent misleading you..you would be the first one on TV saying "duh..I didnt know it was that big of an oil spill"..

I have been going to the

I have been going to the beaches of NC since 1983 and I have seen a few tarballs on the beaches most every year. They are mostly small, less than 4 inches in diameter and sticky flat balls, like heavy clay.

First- We all know

First- We all know Wilmington isn't the beach. Second- Maybe you should drive the 20 mins to the beach and walk up and down it looking for shells.... I'm sure you well find a tarball if your paying any attention what-so-ever!!! I have seen tarballs in Pensacola and Panama City FL before the oil spill. Also I have seen them up the entire coast line of the east coast including our NC beaches.... Third- I think you are in LA LA LAND. PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!

It's not about the size, Nimrod

It's about the fact that it couldn't have gotten here that fast! We're talking about ocean currents, not the jet stream.

Who knows

As the article says, nobody's sure. If the oil spill is going to make it up here, that will be apparent at some point. Nobody 'wins' by being the first to guess right and bashing other people's opinions because it's not the same as their own guess. Nobody knows and everybody hopes the spill doesn't land here just about sums it up.