Gulf of Mexico oil spill threatens shoreline

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Coast Guard officials were investigating reports Friday that a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had washed ashore, threatening fisheries and wildlife along the Gulf Coast.

Pushed by strong southeasterly winds and rising tides, oil that has gushed from a well since an April 20 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig was expected to reach the tip of Plaquemines Parish, La., as early as Thursday night, The Times-Picayune newspaper reported.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency Thursday after the Coast Guard confirmed the well was spewing five times as much oil as previously thought and that it was coming from three sources rather than two.

Oil giant BP, which had been leasing the rig, is leading efforts to contain and clean up the 210,000-gallon-a-day spill.

A senior adviser to President Obama said the government would not allow any new offshore drilling until an investigation was conducted into the spill and whether it could have been prevented, according to an article in The New York Times.

As the oil crept closer to shore Thursday, response to the spill intensified, with the federal government intervening more aggressively.

On Friday morning, the Air Force sent two aircraft to Mississippi, where they awaited orders to start spraying chemicals on the spill, the Associated Press reported. Resources from the Navy have been marshaled to supplement an operation that already consisted of more than 1,000 people and scores of vessels and aircraft.

Click here for the full New York Times article.

Click here for the full Times-Picayune article.

Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatU.S.) recommends the following tips for recreational boaters:

* If your marina or boat club puts oil containment booms in place, do not attempt to cross the booms with your boat. This will only spread the oil and damage the booms or possibly your vessel's running gear.

* If there is oil in your marina, refrain from running engines or other devices that have seawater intakes such as air conditioners or refrigerators.

* Hauling out your boat will prevent damage, but as of press time it was not clear if these costs will be reimbursed by British Petroleum (BP).

* If the spill is sighted coming toward your marina or already there, call the BP Community Information Hotline at (866) 448-5816 to make a report.

* If your boat comes in contact with the oil, call your insurance company to file a claim. Uninsured boaters can call the BP Hotline at (800) 440-0858 to file a claim.

* Damage to a BoatU.S. insured's vessel that is caused by the oil spill is covered. BoatU.S. members are directed to call (800) 937-1937 to file a claim.

For information, visit BoatUS.com or call (800) 395-2628.