Oil Washing Up in Beach Towns Riles Officials

BP was under fire Saturday night in some Alabama and Florida beach towns that are seeing the first signs of oil on their shores.

Pieces of thick sticky tar were washing up again Saturday, and BP is taking a lot of heat for what many say was a slow response, CBS News Correspondent Kelly Cobiella reports.

Special Section: Disaster in the Gulf

As official clean-up crews scooped tar from Florida and Alabama beaches, BP bragged about them and the 50 boats skimming the oil headed for the 300 miles of coastline from Gulfport, Miss., to Pensacola, Fla.

But the mayor of Orange Beach, Ala., wasn't buying it.

"We had a large mat of oil coming in off the beach," said Mayor Tony Kennon. "We spotted it through aerial reconnaissance. We got it boomed up. Could not get a skimmer here before it made landfall. That's inexcusable. I don't care how much BP has to spend. I want the resources here to handle any situation. That is the least I expect from BP."

Sticky pieces of weathered oil washed up on more than 30 miles of white sand for the second day along with a red stain on the Alabama waterline. There, tourists were warned against swimming in the water. In neighboring Florida, Gov. Charlie Crist walked the beach with singer Jimmy Buffet, proclaiming his state's beaches open and safe.

"You really couldn't see oil on the beach at all," Crist said.

But beachgoers in Pensacola did make one disturbing find, a dead bird smeared with oil. It's not clear yet when it died or whether the spill killed it. A sheen of oil is less than a mile from the shores and ribbons of heavier reddish oil behind it, 17 miles out.

"There is frustration, and the key is to get this to stop, and that's what we're really working hard to do," BP Senior Vice President Bob Fryar said.

Besides the beach cleanup teams and skimmers, a group of scientists have launched underwater robots equipped with cameras to monitor the progress of the plumes heading toward the beaches, but local officials remain frustrated.

"We should be like Disney World," said Kennon, the Orange Beach mayor. "Somebody throws a piece of trash down, there ought to be somebody cleaning it up in 10 seconds because there were tarballs on the beach this morning. They may still be there. I don't know."

The government's national incident commander, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, was in Alabama Saturday. He explained that the cleanup effort is like a battle, you have to move resources, you don't always get back in time, but you do your best.
  • Kelly Cobiella

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