Insult to injury – proof of toxic pollution


As if picking up pounds of trash from beaches weekly isn’t sad enough, I am also observing tar sticking to the plastics. Plastics float in the ocean and so does tar/oil. So naturally, the tar hitches a ride with the plastics as they make their way to beaches.

So people, proof right here, that we have a serious problem. I don’t just find plastics with tar/oil once in a while – it is all the time. You may ask how do I know it is tar/oil… the smell is quite profound and distinct. The beaches I frequently visit are Surfer’s Beach in Half Moon Bay, Montara State Beach, Gray Whale Cove State Beach and Ocean Beach at Sloat in San Francisco.

Possible Sources

It would not surprise me that the tar or oil’s primary source is from the shipping industry. Professor Kirstie Stramler of City College San Francisco states, “Tar can and does occur from natural seeps, or it can arise from minor leakages in offshore drilling.” 

What can we do about it?

What kind of corporate responsibility does the shipping and oil industries have with the environment? I do not know the answer. If not already, the industry should be paying taxes that go directly to environmental organizations that conduct clean up and conservation work. Taxpayers should not be picking up the tab – corporations on land and sea, should be leading the way for environmental responsibility!

The pollution problem is systemic and to be blunt, we all support it in some way. How many items in your household are shipped from another country? How many of us depend on car oil? I do honestly.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

As individuals, we can make a dent by finding ways to reduce, reuse and recycle. Of course it’s a no-brainer, that toxic substances should not be poured down drains and street drains. There are facilities that handle toxic substances and businesses that will take used oil free of charge.

If we do not make drastic changes in the way we operate on this planet, there is no way the ocean can reverse the damage we have done fast enough. It is imperative at this point that we all find ways to help protect the environment as our survival depends on it.


In coming months, I will be collecting all plastics that I find with oil/tar and documenting which beaches I am find them at to get a more clear picture of the amount of oil/tar pollution and locations.


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