The following is the email response to Sally Pitts from Ray Melick of BP.
In response to your statement that you took samples of material found at Orange Beach to researchers at Auburn University, and their results show this tar is from the oil spill and certain chemicals in the oil are not breaking down:
If it the material found on the beaches was from the Macondo well, the findings are not unexpected. By the time the residual oil reached the shoreline in the spring and summer of 2010, it was already heavily weathered and contained only a small fraction of the compounds of concern. According to the Government's second Operational Science Advisory Team study (OSAT-2) released Feb. 10, 2011 weathered oil samples showed 86-98 percent depletion of total polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). The study also found that the tar balls contain mostly sand (87-96 percent).
In addition, OSAT-2 found that degradation is occurring, but will take a period of years to complete, and that the constituent concentrations in this residual oil are below EPA-established levels of concern for human health. I urge you to review the OSAT-II report, which can be found here: http://www.restorethegulf.gov/release/2011/03/01/osat-2-fate-and-effects-oil-beaches
As for response activities, over the last three years BP has made significant progress cleaning the Gulf shoreline, having spent more than $14 billion and nearly 70 million personnel hours on response and cleanup activities. The Federal On-Scene Coordinator (FOSC) has declared Removal Actions Deemed Complete for all but 128 of the 4,376 shoreline miles in the area of response, including all but 8 of the original 238 miles in Alabama. This means operational activity has ended in these areas.
I encourage you to see the attached story from the Mobile Press-Register ("Lack of tar balls on Alabama beaches shifts cleanup response" http://blog.al.com/live/2013/03/lack_of_tarballs_on_alabama_be.html ) that quotes City of Gulf Shores officials and the US Coast Guard on the progress made, including Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft saying, "… the amount of oil that we're picking up has diminished in quantity by enough that it isn't a daily requirement to monitor the entire beach." I have also attached a press release from the National Park Service on the status of Gulf Shores National Seashore. Superintendent Dan Brown says, "For the most part, our beaches are clean and look like they did before the oil spill …"
Even in areas where cleanup has moved to a different phase, BP remains committed and prepared to address residual oil should it appear on the shoreline. Following long-standing protocols established under the law, the Coast Guard will investigate reports of oil received by the National Response Center (NRC) and will direct BP to respond if it determines the oil is from the Macondo well and is actionable. Any sighting of possible oil or oil-based material should be reported to the National Response Center (NRC) at 1-800-424-8802.
I hope this helps. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.