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Division of Law Enforcement

Tar Ball Information

What Are They?

Tar balls are fragments or lumps of oil weathered to a semi-solid or solid consistency, feel sticky, and are difficult to remove from contaminated surfaces. They are formed through the combining of viscous hydrocarbons with debris that is present in the water column. They range in size from a pinhead to approximately 30 centimeters in diameter.

Where Do They Come From?

Reportable Incident

Hazardous Materials

  • Petroleum-based spills.
  • Spills into or involving state waterways (any amount).
  • Spills greater than 25 gallons (or potential > 25 gallons).
  • Spills requiring any state/federal notifications or assistance.
  • Chemical spills.
  • All SARA/EHS/CERCLA releases.
  • All spills threatening population or the environment.
  • All spills requiring evacuation.



    Office of Emergency Response Contact Number
    Main Switchboard      850-245-2010
    Main Fax  850-245-2882

    Mailing Address

    Florida Department of Environmental Protection
    Office of Emergency Response
    3900 Commonwealth Blvd, MS 659
    Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000


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