By Associated Press - Friday, March 21, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi environmental authorities say oil debris found this week on state barrier islands is believed to be from the BP’s disastrous 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and contractors for the oil giant are involved in the cleanup.

Officials believe high winds and seasonal low tides uncovered the material.

Mississippi’s Department of Environmental Quality said Friday that 10 pounds of tar balls were found this week on West Ship Island and between 200 and 300 pounds were found on Horn Island.

A team including state and federal authorities and BP contractors investigated those finds and BP contractors were beginning the cleanup Friday. The department said the Coast Guard also found and removed about 97 pounds of oil debris from East Ship Island early in the week.

“Even though the BP oil spill occurred nearly four years ago, it is evident from the material found this week why we remain diligent to find and remove any oil that is found,” Richard Harrell, director of the environmental department’s Office of Pollution Control, said in a news release.

Mats or balls of weathered oil related to the 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig have been discovered from time to time along Gulf beaches. The explosion killed 11 workers and sent millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf.

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