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Oil from the spill reaches Pensacola waterways

PENSACOLA -- Brown gooey oil slopped into the Perdido and Pensacola passes Thursday, the first confirmed invasion of oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster into Florida's inland waterways.

It could be plainly seen on the Alabama side of the Perdido Pass, where workers scraped it from a boat ramp near bright yellow boom. And in Escambia County, spokeswoman Sonya Daniel said it seeped into the next waterway inside Florida, the Pensacola Pass, as well. ``With the incoming tide, evidently overnight, there's some sargassum grass with oil intermixed,'' Daniel reported at 1 p.m. Thursday. ``The Coast Guard has a skimmer out there along with some smaller vessels, actively skimming in the Pensacola Pass right now.''

Inside the waterways, Daniel added, the county was deploying booms to protect 17 separate individual inlets such as bayous and coves where the sea grass was especially sensitive.

In Washington, Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal official coordinating the oil spill relief effort, told reporters that marine protection measures had adopted an open-close strategy to try to stem the flow through Perdido Pass into an intracoastal waterway straddling the Florida-Alabama border.

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