Gulf Oil Spill Nears Florida's White Sand Beaches

The crude oil is only a few miles off the Florida coast now.

The oil from the record spill neared the beautiful white sands of Pensacola Beach Wednesday. Florida will be the 4th state to be hit by the record oil slick. Crude oil has already been reported along barrier islands in Alabama and Mississippi, and has impacted about 125 miles of Louisiana coastline.
The AP reported:

The risky effort to contain the nation’s worst oil spill hit a snag Wednesday when a diamond-edged saw became stuck in a thick pipe on a blown-out well at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said the goal was to free the saw and finish the cut later in the day. This is the latest attempt to contain — not plug — the gusher; the best chance at stopping the leak is a relief well, which is at least two months from completion.

“I don’t think the issue is whether or not we can make the second cut. It’s about how fine we can make it, how smooth we can make it,” Allen said.

If crews make the cut, they will try to place a cap on top of the oil spewing out. This cut-and-cap effort could temporarily increase the flow of oil by as much as 20 percent, though Allen said officials wouldn’t know whether that had happened until the cut could be completed.

Engineers may have to bring in a second saw if the delay continues, and they are shooting chemical dispersants at the oil leaking out of the new cut. The cap could be placed over the spill as early as Wednesday.

The effort underwater was going on as oil drifted close to the Florida Panhandle’s white sand beaches for the first time and investors ran from BP’s stock for a second day, reacting to the company’s weekend failure to plug the leak by shooting mud and cement into the well, known as the top kill.

The Justice Department also has announced it started criminal and civil probes into the spill, although the department did not name specific targets for prosecution.

Barack Obama will be attending the Paul McCartney concert tonight after campaigning in Pennsylvania this afternoon.

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