Tar Balls May Be a False Alarm, But Oil Could Still Reach Keys by Sunday

Twenty tar balls washed up on the shores of Key West today, but because sometimes tar balls occur naturally, and other times they're the product of those less dramatic, everyday ways we pollute our oceans (i.e., the shipping industry), it won't be known if they're from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill until testing is concluded.

In fact, Keys officials are telling everyone to calm down.

"I, frankly, am not concerned. I think that's not related," Monroe County administrator Roman Gastesi tells CBS4. "Tar balls are normal. When I grew up as a kid, we had turpentine in the beach basket for going to the beach. So they're normal, and now folks are out looking for them and they're going to find them."

Researchers at the University of South Florida say that the southern most arm of the oil spill has or is close to entering the dreaded loop current. That could steer the oil to the Gulf Stream, through the Keys, and up the East coast.

If oil has already entered the loop current, scientists warn that the Keys could see runoff from the spill as soon as this weekend.

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