OCEAN SPRINGS -- Dark-amber mats of oil as big as a large mans foot sit on the sand 10 feet from the water, and farther inland along the beaches of Horn Islands west end.
In the heat, they break apart like firm cookie dough -- and smell like the floor of a mechanic shop.
Along the north shore Tuesday, a 100-yard stretch of upland beach was littered with a zigzag line of the flat, greasy pads of gritty oil, the size of a cell phone and smaller.
Some litter the sand in areas where shore birds were nesting.
Horn Island ranger Ben Moore said he sprints past fields of smaller tar balls in the upland sand when he takes his morning runs.
Two fly fishermen reported a chunky piece of black goo a foot in diameter in the surf last week on the south side of the island.
And recreational boater Nick Mason pointed out a swarm of quarter-sized tar globs floating around his boat anchored on the north side of the island Tuesday.
Spokesman Ray Melick said the company is gearing up to return to Horn Island with sand-cleaning crews as soon as the National Park Service issues clearance.
But he said the company hasnt settled on a way to deal with oil residue in the water
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