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Messy handling of oil cleanup

marciadottin, [email protected]

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ROBERT, Lousiana – Anger grew along the Gulf Coast as an ooze of oil washed into delicate coastal wetlands in Louisiana, with residents questioning the federal government and others wondering how to clean up the month-long mess that worsens with each passing day.“It’s difficult to clean up when you haven’t stopped the source,” said Chris Roberts, a councilman for Jefferson Parish, which stretches from the New Orleans metropolitan area to the coast. “You can scrape it off the beach but it’s coming right back.”Roberts surveyed the oil that forced officials to close a public beach on Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, as globs of crude that resembled melted chocolate washed up. Others questioned why BP PLC was stillin charge of the response.“The government should have stepped in and not just taken BP’s word,” declared Wayne Stone of Marathon, Florida, an avid diver who worries about the spill’s effect on the ecosystem.The governmentis overseeing the cleanup and response, but the official responsible for the oversight said he understood the discontent.“If anybody is frustrated with this response, I would tell them their symptoms are normal, because I’m frustrated, too,” said Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. “Nobody likes to have a feeling that you can’t do something about a very big problem.”As simple as it may seem, the law prevents the government from just taking over, Allen said. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, Congress dictated that oil companies be responsible for dealing with major accidents – including paying for all cleanup – with oversight by federal agencies.(AP)