Forty Thousand-Pound Tar Mat Discovered on Louisiana Barrier Island


Erin Greeson, National Audubon Society, 503.913.8978,
Emily Guidry Schatzel, National Wildlife Federation, 225.253.9781,
Elizabeth Skree, Environmental Defense Fund, 202.553.2543,

Forty Thousand-Pound Tar Mat Discovered on Louisiana Barrier Island

Effects of 2010 Gulf oil disaster still evident more than three years later

(New Orleans—June 26, 2013) Recent news reports have confirmed the discovery of a massive 40,000-pound tar mat directly offshore of Grand Terre, a barrier island about 90 miles south of New Orleans. This announcement comes on the heels of a declaration earlier this month by the Coast Guard and BP that cleanup from the 2010 Gulf oil disaster is over in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. Meanwhile in Louisiana, crews are still monitoring more than 80 miles of coastline.

Today, Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society and National Wildlife Federation issued the following joint statement:

“A twenty-ton tar mat on Grand Terre is a vivid reminder that the effects of the 2010 Gulf oil disaster are far from over, despite BP’s glossy ad campaigns saying otherwise. It is time for BP to be held accountable for its lasting damages to Gulf ecosystems, economies and communities.

“Three years after the disaster, which released more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf, we are still experiencing BP oil across our Louisiana shorelines and throughout our precious marshes. Many barrier islands bore the brunt of the damage from the oil disaster, and islands like Grand Terre are vitally important to Louisiana and the entire Gulf ecosystem. Barrier islands provide a first line of defense against storm surge, protecting communities and habitats, and they are also nurseries and breeding grounds for many species of Gulf fish, wildlife and migratory birds.

“BP misleads audiences when it declares cleanup victory in the Gulf. It may try to sweep this recent news under the rug, but it’s going to take a pretty big broom to hide a 40,000-pound tar mat. While reports say that the tar mat is ‘only’ 15 percent oil and 85 percent sand, shells and water, the entire 40,000-pound mat is considered hazardous material and must be removed from the area. This tar mat is but the latest reminder of the massive amounts of remaining oil and the ongoing need for restoration. We cannot let BP off the hook when we are continuing to see new evidence of damage to our ecosystem and economy from its oil.

“We may never be able to clean up all of the BP oil that inundated our marshes and wetlands, but we can take on large-scale restoration of our coast — including barrier islands like Grand Terre — to combat the effects of BP’s oil and restore the entire Gulf Coast. Through the RESTORE Act and full BP accountability, still to be settled in court, we have the opportunity for justice and a healthy Gulf future within reach.”