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Coast Guard: More oil being captured in Gulf

June 7, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It's day 49 of the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and finally, there's some progress in slowing the leak.

According to the Coast Guard, the cap over the damaged BP oil well is collecting more and more oil. It's now keeping up to 462,000 gallons of oil a day from leaking into the sea, up from 441,000 gallons on Saturday and about 250,000 on Friday.

BP's CEO Tony Hayward says a second containment system could be in place by next weekend, but so much oil has already escaped that the environmental and economic damage is growing daily.

Officials overseeing the response to the spill said the battle to contain the leak may continue well into the fall, which is devastating news to residents and business owners along the Gulf coast.

BP also announced on Monday that the cost of the company's response to the oil spill has reached about $1.25 billion. BP says that figure does not include $360 million for a project to build sand berms to protect Louisiana's wetlands.

Latest developments:

  • Federal authorities have estimated the ruptured pipe is leaking between 500,000 gallons and 1 million gallons a day.
  • The patchy oil slick now stretches from 100 miles east of the Texas-Louisiana border to near the middle of the Florida Panhandle, and down to the open sea about 150 miles west of Tampa, Fla., officials said.
  • The tourist hotspot of Panama City Beach, in the middle of the Panhandle, expected oil to reach its famous beaches within 72 hours, which would mark a new easternmost point for the oil washing ashore.

Tar balls continue to roll onto Pensacola Beach

Tar balls continued to roll onto shore Monday morning farther west at Pensacola Beach, leaving a distinct line in the sand from the high-rise condos above as the sun rose. Beach walkers had to stay between the line of dime- and quarter-size tar balls and the retreating surf or risk getting the gummy, rust-staining gunk stuck to their feet.

Jody Haas, a tourist from Aurora, Ill., was among the few walking the beach early Monday after a crowded weekend here. Haas, who had visited the beach before, said it was not the same.

"It was pristine, gorgeous, white sand," she said. "This spot is light compared to some of the other spots farther down and (the tar) is just everywhere here. It's just devastating, awful."

Obama seeks to reassure Americans

President Barack Obama sought to reassure Americans on Monday by saying that "we will get through this crisis" but that it would take time and effort.

The people of the Gulf Coast "are going to need help from the entire country," he said, but he is determined that the region will be restored to a condition better than it was before the BP well blew out on April 20.

"This is a resilient ecosystem and these are resilient people down on the Gulf Coast," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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