Coast Guard officials were investigating reports early this morning that a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico had washed ashore overnight, 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.