Mississippi River oil spill spreads to Gulf of Mexico

The massive oil slick from the crash that occurred yesterday on the Mississippi near New Orleans has now spread 100 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, it's come to light that the barge carrying the 400,000 gallons of fuel oil that spilled was being moved by a tugboat when it was struck by the Liberian-flagged tanker Tintomara -- and the tugboat operator had only an apprentice mate's license, and no one else on board was properly licensed to operate the boat. The Coast Guard's investigation continues.

So far cleanup crews have contained only about 140 barrels of oil out of the more than 9,900 spilled, the New Orleans Times-Picayune reports. Several birds and a beaver have been found coated in oil, and wildlife officials continue to search the area around the spill. Staff at the Delta National Wildlife Refuge are overseeing the placement of oil-collecting booms in an efforts to keep the pollution from entering wetlands, where it's feared the oil could contaminate important food sources for migrating birds.

The disaster has shut down traffic along the Mississippi, with some 90 vessels stuck at various points along the river this morning. The river could be closed for days or weeks for cleanup operations, which would have an enormous economic impact. Click here for more details and updates from the Times-Picayune.