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Oil Spill Tar Patties Wash Ashore In Alabama, As Angry Governor Blasts Coast Guard Decisions

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MOBILE, Ala. - Alabama Gov. Bob Riley is angry about U.S. Coast Guard decisions he says have left parts of the Gulf Coast vulnerable to pollution from the oil spill.

Riley told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the Coast Guard wrongly decided to remove oil barriers from the Alabama and Mississippi coasts and take them to Louisiana when oil began hitting that state.

The governor says that decision means Alabama and Mississippi are now more vulnerable to the oil that's beginning to hit their shores.

Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said earlier Wednesday the threat of oil was shifting east and that protective boom was being shipped there. He also says skimmer vessels would be working offshore to intercept as much oil as possible before it hits land.

Later, Allen announced that more Coast Guard staff and resources would be moved to the Gulf Coast as the slick continues to move east toward Florida.

Oil began washing up on Alabama's Dauphin Island on Tuesday in the shape of small tarballs. But by Wednesday, reports The Washington Post, the size of those tar balls had increased:

Small "tarballs" had appeared before, Mayor Jeff Collier said, but these were different: they were sticky "tar patties," as big as a flattened palm.

"There were hundreds of 'em," on the beach, Collier said. "And you could easily see lots more of them in the surf water."

AL.com reported Wednesday evening that the oil washing ashore smells like gasoline and detailed the scene at a public beach on the island:

Walking slowly along the water's edge, a clump or two can be seen coming ashore every couple of steps.

Meanwhile, a couple hundred yards away, the public beach is open and sunbathers are out. Several of the more curious ones walk, mostly barefoot, by the contractors, who have been instructed not to talk.

Some who have relayed their observations about the oil spill to local and national media have not been warmly received, reports The New York Times:

On the coastal island of Gulf Shores, some residents who had seen tar balls near their property said that neighbors had told them not to talk about it.

Ms. Callaway said that after she talked on television about the tar balls on Dauphin Island, she, too, had received angry responses. "I had people telling me, 'Thanks a lot, you killed our tourist season.' "

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