Coast Guard: tar balls wash up on Ala. island

Associated Press Writers

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) - A Coast Guard official says tar balls that are believed to be from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill are washing up on an Alabama island.

Coast Guard chief warrant officer Adam Wine said about a half dozen tar balls had been collected by Saturday afternoon at Dauphin Island. He says the substance needs to be tested, but officials think it came from the oil spill.

The barrier island is at the mouth of Mobile Bay and about three miles from the coast.

Word of tar balls washing ashore came as a BP PLC official said that icelike crystals were causing problems with an oil containment box that had been placed over the massive leak about 50 miles from the Louisiana coast. BP chief operating officer Doug Suttles says it will probably take the next two days to study the problem.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ON THE GULF OF MEXICO (AP) - A BP PLC official is saying icelike crystals formed inside of an oil containment box when it was placed over a massive oil leak and that crews have had to move the contraption away to study the problem.

Chief operating officer Doug Suttles said Saturday that he is not saying that the box has failed. But he did say what they tried Friday night did not work.

Suttles says the buildup on the specially constructed box made it too buoyant and clogged it up and they've set it to the side to study the problem.

Officials had cautioned that they would meet challenges during this unprecedented attempt to divert oil spewing into the waters.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.