Tarballs on San Diego County Beaches Prompt Public Health Advisory

Tarballs were not something we thought we would be worrying about this first week of October of 2021.

The month of October started with fire prevention week…and now all the talk is about how to prevent oil leaks from offshore facilities in the ocean and what to do about it in the future. When tens of thousands of gallons bursting out of an underwater pipeline several miles off the coast north of San Diego County and within hours becoming a massive slick of oil, we probably all thought there might be some of it that moves south.

So, the black balls of tar showing up on beaches in Oceanside and Carlsbad as well as reports now in Encinitas and even Del Mar may not have been a big surprise, but now we hope it doesn’t get any worse.

San Diego County issued a public health advisory Thursday. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said there was no immediate threat to public health but that the advisory was issued to make people aware and to report any tarballs or oil they see.

Each of the tarballs may only be the size of a quarter, but the damage and the cost of cleaning up the oil spill that closed some beaches in Orange County is going to be into the billions of quarters, in other words into the millions of dollars. And that doesn’t include the tourism dollars that we depend on and could be lost and the economic impact of oil in the ocean waters and on some beaches.

What’s ahead in the coming days will depend on how successful the effort is to put out booms to keep the oil away from certain areas and clean up the tarballs along beaches and the oil still in the water.

There are already more calls to ban all offshore oil drilling but the debate over what to do and how to do it may become as sticky as a tarball.

(Photo Getty Images)

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Photo: Getty Images

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