Effects of spill along beaches, islands
In Florida, officials confirmed an oil sheen Tuesday about nine miles from Pensacola beach, where the summer tourism season was just getting started. Winds were forecast to blow from the south and west, pushing the slick closer to western Panhandle beaches.
Emergency crews began scouring the beaches for oil and shoring up miles of boom. County officials will use it to block oil from reaching inland waterways but plan to leave beaches unprotected because they are too difficult to protect and easier to clean up. "It's inevitable that we will see it on the beaches," said Keith Wilkins, deputy chief of neighborhood and community services for Escambia County.
The oil has been spreading in the Gulf since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded six weeks ago, killing 11 workers and eventually sinking. The rig was being operated for BP, the largest oil and gas producer in the Gulf.
Crude has already been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi, and it has polluted some 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.