Surfers, swimmers back in water after cleanup of oily substance at South Bay beaches

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Surfers and swimmers were back in the water of Southern California beaches enjoying the waves Saturday following a three-day closure.

Oil and tar patties washed ashore around noon Wednesday, but the seven-mile stretch of coastline from Manhattan Beach to Redondo Beach was reopened Friday evening.

"I was very upset when they told me the beaches were closed, came down here this morning, and it's open," said Nancy Hild, who was happy she was able to take a stroll along the beach Saturday morning.

"I don't really see remnants of it. I was kind of looking for it this morning, but I don't see it, so I'm happy," she said.

Hild said she had been wanting to put her toes in the sand ever since she was asked to leave the beaches in Santa Barbara after last week's oil spill.

"We looked at the bottom of our feet and they were covered in tar," Hild said. "That was very upsetting."

Officials say they don't know the source of the substance that washed ashore on South Bay beaches, but aren't ruling anything out. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Charlene Downey said testing will be done to determine the source, but that could take a week or more.

Beachgoers say they're just happy to have their playground up and running.

"The waves were pretty good. The water has warmed back up and it's clear, beautiful water," surfer Michael Shurley said. "It's no oil or anything out there."

For three days, the only visitors to South Bay beaches were people in protective suits picking up clumps of tar. Crews collected about 40 cubic yards of the oily goo.

Many beachgoers said the closure gave them a new appreciation for their beaches and a motivation to continue to keep them clean.

"I've surfed for 30 years here and our water is cleaner today than it's been in many, many years, and I attribute that to people taking better care of our oceans," Shurley said.

Shoreline assessment teams were monitoring the area from Redondo Beach to Point Dume. Clean-up crews were also on standby in case more tar washed ashore.

Those who spot more balls of tar are asked to call the National Response Center Hotline at (800) 424-8802.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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