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Cleanup of oil-tainted Gulf Coast nears end

December 30, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
In what BP calls Operation Deep Clean, crews have been cleaning oil-tainted beaches of the Gulf Coast. The Coast Guard says 928 miles of beach were fouled with oil and fewer than 30 miles are left to clean.However, it's unlikely they will get all of it by the time college students begin flocking to the Gulf Coast for spring break at the end of February, the Coast Guard's deadline for cleaning bathing beaches.

There is so much oil under the sand, mud and oyster shells that tar balls may be washing up for months, if not years.

In many places, tar balls and black sticky patties that once littered the shoreline are gone. The sand is no longer stained brown, and the surf is clear of crude. Beaches that once looked like excavation sites are returning to normal.

At the spill's height, 47,000 people and over 10,000 vessels were working on the disaster. Now, the army of spill responders is down to 6,000 and the fleet consists of about 380 vessels.

The Associated Press contributed to this report