Oil spill threatens Alabama, Florida coastlines

By: Joel Brown, CBS News
By: Joel Brown, CBS News

June 21, 2010

DESTIN, Fla.---Small tar balls cropped up on Destin's beach over the weekend. Crews worked through the night to protect the harbor and bay of Florida's Destin Pass from an oil slick about ten miles away by stretching hundreds of feet of boom across the pass.

Changing winds and currents are bringing the massive spill closer to the Alabama and Florida shoreline--at the worst possible time for local merchants.

"I think everybody in the area is nervous," said air brush artist Duffy Peoples. "I am nervous. Our livelihood depends on tourism."

Even just a ten percent hit to tourism business on Florida's Gulf Coast could cost the state more than $2 billion.

BP put Mississippi native Bob Dudley in charge of cleanup and containment efforts as CEO Tony Hayward's weekend yacht excursion created more PR backlash.

Gulf coast leaders are glad to see the shakeup.

"Hopefully things will change over the next week or so," said Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser. "We have to get a sense of urgency in getting this oil picked up quickly."

A fleet of 4600 ships is now part of the fight, and BP says it continues to make progress on relief wells that hold the only hope for permanently stopping the leak. BP's price tag for the Gulf oil spill is now over the $2 billion mark and climbing by the day.

A federal judge in New Orleans is hearing arguments today from several oil companies who want a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling in the Gulf lifted. They say Louisiana is losing millions in lost wages and royalties.

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