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Oil spill sparks new drilling ban

BBC News

Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano: This is a spill of national significance

Friday, 30 April 2010 13:15 UK

The US administration has banned oil drilling in new areas of the US coast pending investigations into the cause of the oil spill off Louisiana.

“No additional drilling has been authorised and none will until we find out what happened,” White House adviser David Axelrod told ABC television.

Last month President Barack Obama eased a moratorium on new offshore drilling.

Up to 5,000 barrels of oil a day are thought to be spilling into the water after last week’s rig explosion.

The slick has begun to reach the Louisiana shore, and the US Navy has been sent to help avert an economic and environmental disaster.

State of emergency

Mr Axelrod announced the ban on drilling in new areas in an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America programme on Friday.

He also defended the administration’s response to the 20 April explosion that destroyed the BP-operated Deepwater Horizon rig, saying “we had the Coast Guard in almost immediately”.

The US government has designated the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an “incident of national significance”. This allows it to draw on resources from across the country.

The wetlands off the coast of Louisiana sustain hundreds of wildlife species and a big seafood and fishing industry.

Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency and asked for federal funds to deploy 6,000 National Guard soldiers to help with the clean-up.

The states of Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are also threatened, as oil continues to escape from the wreckage of the rig.

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