Oil washes onto Mississippi coast for first time

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss., (Reuters) – Large patches of  thick oil washed ashore in Mississippi yesterday, the first  time crude from the BP Plc spill in the Gulf of Mexico has hit  the state’s coast.

Oil hit two tourist beaches at Ocean Springs, about 10  miles (16 kilometres) east of Biloxi, and a beach used by  fisherman that is close to an inland marsh. Wildlife officials  picked up one pelican covered in oil.

State officials and the Coast Guard, who said they were  expecting more oil to arrive, were waiting on BP contractors to  start cleaning up.

“We cannot clean up or catch the oil until BP gets here.  They have all of our people,” said Earl Etheridge, a spokesman  for Mississippi’s Department of Environmental Quality. “We want  to clean this up now. Maybe this will amp up BP’s effort but we  can’t do anything because they have all the money.”

Efforts to contain and clean up oil from the massive spill  are being handled jointly by federal, state and local officials  and funded by the energy giant, leading to frustration among  people whose coastlines are most at risk.

Louisiana’s fragile wetlands have been hardest hit by the  oil but Mississippi had escaped damage until yesterday, although  some oil has tainted its barrier islands. Oil has also come  ashore in Alabama and Florida’s Gulf coast.

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