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Americas

Obama orders a tripling of manpower on Gulf coast

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-05-29

US President Barack Obama has ordered a tripling of manpower on the Louisiana coastline while admitting that only a "limited" amount of protective boom was available to shield the Gulf coastline from a massive oil slick.

US President Barack Obama on Friday ordered a tripling of manpower in coastal regions hit by the Gulf oil slick or where the toxic crude was expected to imminently come ashore.

Obama said he had ordered Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and US Coast Guard chief Admiral Thad Allen to "triple the manpower in places where oil has hit the shore or is within 24 hours of impact."

The president said the move would allow the government to intensify what was already a "historic" response to the disaster sparked more than a month ago after an explosion aboard a BP-operated oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

However, Obama admitted that only a "limited" amount of protective boom was available to shield Gulf coastlines from a massive oil slick and said the government was working out how to make more.

On his second trip to the oil disaster zone in Louisiana, he said that three million feet (910,000 meters) of hard boom had already been deployed in an effort to stop the biggest oil spill in US history from reaching wetlands and beaches.

"There's a limited amount of boom. We're going to try to get more boom manufactured, but that may take some time, and that means we're going to have to make some decisions about how to deploy it effectively," he said.

It was the first time that the president had publicly said there may not be sufficient boom readily available for use in the disaster.

Long lines of booms have been deployed in the Gulf of Mexico during the clean-up effort in a bid to keep oil slicks from reaching land -- but it has not been a fail-safe plan, as bad weather for example can push oil over the top of the barriers.

Date created : 2010-05-28

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