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Barbour presses for more oil-fighting resources

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Gov. Haley Barbour says he’s pressing BP and federal officials to increase resources in Mississippi, where oil has reached the shoreline and continues to flow into the waters around barrier islands.

“While command and control of on-water resources has improved, it must get much better and the amount of resources to attack the oil offshore must be greatly increased,” Barbour said in an e-mailed statement.

Barbour said resources are needed to attack the oil as far south as possible.

The governor said “under the circumstances, we are taking some of that into our own hands.” Officials announced Friday the state has contracted to buy skimmers being built by two Mississippi companies.

On Sunday, oil was found in at least two areas on Mississippi’s shoreline in Jackson County.

Donald Langham, the county emergency management director, said tar balls and a patch of oil were spotted at the St. Andrews beach and at the Lake Mars pier in Gulf Park Estates.

Langham said cleanup teams were on the scene and two skimming vessels were working the channel between Deer Island and the shore.

“We’re trying to catch as much as we can right now before we get any more impact,” Langham said.

There are 723 vessels deployed in Mississippi, according to a regional command center in Mobile. A total of 2,077 vessels have been contracted.

Richard Judy, a spokeswoman for BP, said the company appreciated Barbour’s support and would work with his staff and local agencies to step up resources to combat the oil.

He said BP is “determined to stick with this effort to get this work done no matter how long it takes.”

Barbour said more oil was found in the Mississippi Sound, north of Petit Bois and Horn islands. Barbour said oil also was in the passes between those islands and Ship Island.

Barbour said the boom protecting Biloxi Bay near Deer Island was closed to boat traffic. He said skimming vessels were brought in to prevent additional oil from getting into the bay.

Barbour warned residents against trying to clean up the emulsion or any new tar balls unless they’ve had proper training.

Barbour said while the emulsion that came ashore is weathered, it “is messy, and cleanup crews are handling it and disposing of it.”

Mike Brainard, a biologist with the state Department of Marine Resources, said more coastal waters would be closed to fishing.

Brainard said beginning Sunday night, areas from Gulfport to the Alabama state line would be off limits. The exclusions were the bays, which would still open for fishing.

For weeks, Mississippi’s coast had been spared from the massive oil leak that’s inundated fragile marshes and beaches in other states. But in recent days, more oil has found its way into the state’s waters and barrier islands.

Barbour said strong winds have caused the oil to move in Mississippi’s direction and that activity is expected to continue until the middle of next week.

“It’s in our area now and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said BD Root, a Jackson County Recreation Department employee. “It’s the brown stuff, which is not as bad as the heavy crude.”


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