No new tar balls found on South Bay beaches; source still unknown

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- South Bay beaches remain closed after an oily substance washed ashore on Wednesday, but no new tar balls were spotted on Thursday.

"Our primary objectives are, of course, the safety of the public, the responders and also, the wildlife," said Coast Guard Capt. Charlene Downey during a news conference.

If no more of the oily substance washes ashore, the beach will reopen at 6 a.m. Friday.

The oil patties were spotted around noon Wednesday, closing the coastline in Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach.

Cleanup crews have dumped about 30 cubic yards of tar balls and tar patties into huge bins.

"We've made significant progress on the shoreline and that's where the bulk of the tar balls had been observed," Downey said.

Downey said it was too early to tell if the substance was connected to the oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara. The results from the oil samples may not be available for a few days to a week.

The beaches are closed from the lifeguard towers to the water, but visitors can use the area behind the lifeguard towers.

Until the source of the oil patties was determined, the public was urged to stay out of the water.

"The source has been undetermined; they're still testing what's washed up," said Chris Linkletter of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "The oil patties that are washing in could be potentially dangerous."

Many surfers ignored the signs to stay out of the water and went in anyway.

"I got a couple waves in and then they came by again and told me to get out," said Scott Berk, who regularly surfs at Manhattan Beach. "I hope they clean it up quickly."

There is no closure for Torrance Beach because there have been no reports of the substance washing up there. However, city officials advised the public to stay out of the water as a precaution.

Someone dropped off an oil-covered loon at a wildlife center in Manhattan Beach, but it's not clear exactly where the bird or the oil came from, the Coast Guard said.

The loon was being treated at the Oiled Wildlife Care Network Rehabilitation Center in San Pedro, and was said to be alive and stable. No other wildlife problems have been reported.

Anyone that encounters injured wildlife is urged to leave them where they are and call (877) 823-6926.

If you spot more of the oil patties, you can call the L.A. Department of Public Health at (800) 525-5662.
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