GULF SHORES, AL (AP) - Environmental advocates and others are questioning the decision to quit using crews to look for tar balls left by the BP oil spill on Gulf Coast beaches in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi.
The patrols ended this month as coastal monitoring reverted to the way it operated before the spill: The Coast Guard investigates beach pollution reported by the public through a federal response system and conducts cleanup operations as needed.
BP and the Coast Guard say there aren't enough tar balls to warrant daily cleaning crews.
But beach visitors are still stepping on tar balls in spots, and environmentalists say many people can't identify tar balls even if they see them.
BP is still paying for cleanup work linked to the spill, and regular patrols continue on the Louisiana coast.