National

Apr 30, 2010 8:16 AM by Bea Karnes, News First 5

Oil spill reaches Louisiana coast

Fishermen rushed to scoop up shrimp and crews spread floating barriers around marshes as a faint glaze of oil started to wash ashore along the Gulf Coast from a sunken rig.

The oil slick could become the nation's worst environmental disaster in decades, threatening hundreds of species of fish, birds and other wildlife along the Gulf Coast. Thicker oil was in waters south and east of the Mississippi delta about five miles offshore. Government officials say the blown-out well 40 miles offshore is spewing about 5,000 barrels a day into the water.

At that rate, the spill could eclipse the worst oil spill in U.S. history, which was the 11 million gallons that leaked from the grounded tanker Exxon Valdez in Alaska's Prince William Sound in 1989. Ultimately, the spill could grow much larger than the Valdez because Gulf of Mexico wells tap deposits that hold many times more oil than a single tanker.

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