New questions arise on dispersant use in oil spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - The government's point man on the Gulf oil spill is rejecting assertions that federal officials allowed BP too much leeway to use chemical dispersants.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Sunday that federal regulators did not ignore environmental guidelines. He says some field commanders had authority to allow more dispersants to be used on a case-by-case basis.

Congressional investigators say the Coast Guard routinely approved BP requests to break up the oil. That's despite a federal directive to use the dispersant rarely.

Long-term effects of the dispersants on sea life are unknown.

Allen says the effort to begin permanently plugging up the blown-out well could begin as early as Monday.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)