More than two months after oil from BP's blown-out sea floor well first reached Louisiana, tar balls are now washing onto a Texas beach, meaning the crude has arrived in every Gulf state.
Oil is still on the move, but the fleet of skimmers tapped to clean the worst-hit areas of the Gulf of Mexico is not. A string of storms has made the water too choppy for the boats to operate for more than a week off Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, even though the gusher continues.
Speaking in an interview with CNN this morning, Ret. Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said that a massive Taiwanese oil skimmer -- which has been undergoing testing -- was slow to maneuver in the area crowded with small vessels.
Testing of the ship -- called ``A Whale'' and billed as being capable of sucking up 21 million gallons of oil water a day -- is still ``inconclusive,'' Allen said.
Meanwhile, the number of tar balls discovered in Texas is tiny compared to what has coated beaches in other Gulf states.
``It was just a matter of time that some of the oil would find its way to Texas,'' said Hans Graber, a marine physicist at the University of Miami and co-director of the Center for Southeastern Tropical Advanced Remote Sensing.
Hurricane Alex, which blew through the Gulf last week and made landfall along the border between Texas and Mexico, may have played a small role in bringing the oil ashore in Texas by increasing the westerly current near land, Graber said. But it was more likely due to normal coastal currents and local weather patterns.
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