Unknown substance comes ashore

By MARY PEREZ – meperez@sunherald.com

BAY ST. LOUIS

Large amounts of rusty substance washed up on the beaches and floated beneath the bridges and into the Bay of St. Louis Sunday.

“These 18-inch boom systems didn’t even slow it down. This is not protection,” Mayor Les Fillingame said. “This is a wake-up call.”

Officials waited for several hours for a test kit that would determine if the substance collected in a bucket and floating on the water surface was from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill or an organic algae bloom. The Department of Environmental Quality took samples that were being tested Sunday night.

Fillingame called it a “huge event” and said, “If this is algae, nobody’s ever seen this much.”

While other families celebrated Father’s Day, Fillingame, his wife and emergency officials stood on the bridge in the hot sun staring down at the water. The foamy material on the surface slid beneath the 18-inch orange boom in light winds and calm water and into the Bay of St. Louis toward sailboats and fishing boats. Fillingame pointed to other material below the surface.

The ribbons of orange material were spotted at about 2 p.m. stretching between the railroad bridge to the south and the Bay of St. Louis Bridge.

Fillingame said the substance had the same appearance as the weathered oil he’s seen when he flew over the oil slicks that were miles from the shore.

Late Sunday afternoon, he joined people gathering just north of the CSX tracks as the material lapped on shore.

Brian Adam, director of the Emergency Management Agency in Hancock County, scooped up a handful of the material from the sample bucket. It had the consistency of mud and didn’t stick to his skin like he said oil would.

Read more: http://www.sunherald.com/2010/06/20/2273953/unknown-substance-comes-ashore.html#ixzz0rUc1FtGM

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