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Beachgoers make Atlantic vacation plans because of oil spill

Rick Porter has been watching movements of the dramatic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with keen interest. After all, the Columbus resident booked a weeklong family vacation for late August at a condominium in Destin, Fla.

But Porter also is making contingency plans for either Hilton Head Island, S.C., or St. Augustine, Fla. — both on the Atlantic Ocean side of the U.S. coast — should there be confirmed reports of oil or tar balls washing ashore and marring the sugary white sand and turquoise water.

"We just don't know what's going to happen," he said Thursday. "We don't have any idea where this oil's going. And we figure by August we could still beat it to the East Coast."

That appears to be the reasoning of more and more vacationers as a British Petroleum oil well continues to belch crude a mile under the gulf’s surface following an April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers.

The gooey mess has already impacted marshlands, beaches and wildlife along the Louisiana coast — closest to the spill site — but has been drifting slowly eastward. There have been reports of slimy tar balls surfacing on beaches in Alabama and as far east as Pensacola, Fla.

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