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Gulf oil spill: Louisiana's berm plan bold but full of uncertainty

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Oil has expanded its patchy landfall from the western edge of the Mississippi River Delta to beaches along Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle.

During a briefing at the White House today, US Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen told reporters that he expected the cleanup of oil on the sea surface to continue into the fall, assuming BP's two relief wells are finished in August. But, he added, the amount of time for dealing with "long-term issues of restoring the environment and the habitats and stuff will be years," with oil-fouled wetlands a critical concern.

The berm plan

The berm plan, which President Obama approved last week, initially involves building about 35 miles of berms in six segments – the longest of which, off the Chandeleur Islands east of the Mississippi Delta, stretches 13 miles. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina walloped the string of islands some 50 miles long, turning them into shoals.

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