A stretch of Hancock County beach was ordered closed Wednesday after an infestation of tar balls believed associated with the Deepwater Horizon oil crisis began washing ashore Tuesday afternoon.
The beach is now closed from Nicholson Avenue to the Silver Slipper Casino. The state Departments of Environmental Quality and Marine Resources said in a joint statement that the area was closed “due to a large number of small tar balls and tar patties with dense coverage in some places.”
In addition, Hancock County Road Manager Bill Johnson said Beach Boulevard has also been closed from Nicholson Avenue in Waveland, all the way to Lakeshore Road.
Cleanup crews have been working to remove tar balls and oil patties that began washing onto county beaches Tuesday afternoon. Kenneth Hayes, of U.S. Environmental, said Wednesday that his company has added cleanup workers and boat crews, and now has about 650 workers on the job in Hancock County.
“We’ve beefed it up a lot,” he said.
In addition to the road and beach closure, citizens are now subject to a new safety measure imposed by the Coast Guard. All vessels must stay at least 20 meters, or nearly 66 feet, away from all oil boom, booming operations, or oil response efforts. The rule is currently in effect until Oct. 2.
BY: J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo