Small patches of crude from the massive Gulf of Mexico spill have washed up on the Louisiana coast, but the bulk of the slick still remains at sea.
That oil is not forecast to slosh ashore for another two to three days, although there are now fears it could be carried to Miami beach and further afield by powerful currents.
Calmer weather has helped crews in the battle to control the mess. For the moment, however, they are overwhelmed.
President of Ecoceane Eric Vial said: ‘‘We can see the US authorities don’t have the means to collect the oil as 800,000 litres are escaping everyday and the barriers aren’t enough. The sea booms aren’t effective and while the coastal barriers are useful for isolating zones, the oil has to be gathered and at the moment they lack the means to do that.’‘
BP has warned that in a worst-case scenario up to 2.5 million gallons of oil a day could spill from its sunken rig Deep Water Horizon.
The British firm is pinning its hopes on a giant steel funnel to plug the leak and siphon the remaining oil from the seabed.
But the first victims of the environmental disaster have already started arriving. Pelicans and other birds are being treated after being soiled by the slick.
Experts have also warned that the toxic soup from oil-dispersing chemicals also poses a serious danger to wildlife.