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Containment boom effort comes up short in BP oil spill

Louisiana government officials said Thursday that much of the containment boom deployed along the Gulf Coast is proving ineffective in BP oil spill cleanup efforts.

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Workers remove containment boom in water contaminated by the BP oil spill on Thursday, near Chauvin, La.

Eric Gay/AP

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Containment booms are one of the main weapons in the fight to corral the BP oil spill. But some US lawmakers and local officials are becoming increasingly concerned that the booms aren’t working as intended along the US Gulf Coast.

There is much more shoreline to protect than lengths of boom to protect it, they say. Rough weather has washed oil over the barriers, and inexperienced operators haven’t laid them correctly.

"The boom is not working ... it is a joke,” says Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, at a Thursday Senate hearing. “It washes up on the shore with the oil, and then we have oil in the marsh, and we have an oily boom. So we have two problems.”

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The only booms that are working well are those laid in open areas of ocean, says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana. They can capture areas of oil for removal.

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