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Published: Monday, 6/28/2010

Oil, tar balls spotted on previously spared Mississippi coast


OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. - Oil has been spotted in at least two areas on the Mississippi coast, which had so far mostly been spared damage from the Gulf of Mexico spill.

Jackson County emergency management director Donald Langham says tar balls and a patch of oil were spotted at the St. Andrews beach and at the Lake Mars pier in Gulf Park Estates.

Mr. Langham said cleanup teams were on the scene and two skimming vessels were working.

In recent days, more oil has been finding its way into Mississippi's waters and barrier islands. Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida have all been seeing oil wash up already.

Tropical Storm Alex moved into the Gulf of Mexico yesterday after weakening to a depression as it swirled across Belize and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, dumping rains that left at least four people dead across the region.

Alex is expected to regain strength in the coming days as it moves over warmer waters in the Gulf and possibly become a hurricane headed toward Mexico's eastern coast, well away from the area where BP PLC is trying to stop a massive oil leak, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said. But meteorologists warned that a storm's track can quickly change.

When Alex became the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, officials worried what effect it could have on efforts to contain the millions of gallons of crude spewing into the Gulf.

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