well_tube(CNN) -- The federal government's oil spill response director says testing has revealed that there is a "detected seep a distance from the well" and has ordered BP to quickly notify the government if other leaks are found.

"When seeps are detected, you are directed to marshal resources, quickly investigate, and report findings to the government in no more than four hours," retired Adm. Thad Allen said in a letter to BP Chief Managing Director Bob Dudley. "I direct you to provide me a written procedure for opening the choke valve as quickly as possible without damaging the well should hydrocarbon seepage near the well head be confirmed."

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bpOne of two relief wells being drilled in an attempt to kill BP's runaway oil well below the Gulf of Mexico is within 20 feet horizontally of it, a company executive said Monday.

The relief well has reached a depth of 16,770 feet, but engineers plan to drill another 900 feet vertically before cutting in sideways, said Kent Wells, BP senior vice president of exploration and production.

"In the last 200 feet, we will angle the well in directly towards it," he said, adding that the drilling, which began May 2, is expected to reach the belching Macondo well in early August.

"While we feel very good about the progress we've made thus far, we've said from day one, roughly 90 days," he told reporters in a conference call. "We continue to think that."

BP has 44,000 barrels of mud ready to inject into the Macondo in an attempt to end what President Barack Obama has called the nation's worst environmental disaster.

Mississippi (Reuters) - Oil from the BP Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico washed ashore at one of the largest tourist beaches in Mississippi on Monday, forcing tourists to pack their bags and evacuate the shore.

oil mississippi beachesSludgy brown oil, light sheen and tar balls arrived at a series of points in small towns in the Gulf state on Sunday, the first time oil has hit Mississippi's mainland. On Monday, it reached Biloxi, a major resort city famous for its casinos.

One day after state and local officials complained vehemently about the slow pace of cleanup efforts, just three people from a private contracting company hired by BP were working on Biloxi's shore, putting tar balls into containers.

Some children on holiday in Biloxi stepped into tar balls before their parents whisked them away from the beach.

"We are leaving today. My child stepped in oil yesterday as we were playing on the beach. Obviously we are cutting our vacation short. This is a complete shame and very sad," said Susan Reed, who came with her family from Texas on vacation to Biloxi.

Reed said she was unsure whether to take her 7-year-old daughter to the doctor and was worried because her foot remained stained even after they had washed off the oil.

Elsewhere in Mississippi, small crews worked to get rid of the oil, power-spraying the emulsified substance from rocks and removing tar balls.

Around a dozen boats were visible offshore skimming oil but 700 boats were at work and the state was pressing for more resources, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said in a statement late on Sunday.

Rain and thunderstorms churned up the oil on beaches overnight, scattering it and making cleanup more difficult.

But local officials said that despite the urgency of the task they were struggling to mount a bigger effort because of problems in the chain of command.

"This is the most frustrating process I have experienced. We have asked and asked for an easier process. It's unfortunate that we have to call all day long to get somebody out here the following day," said Jackson County official John McKay.

Raining oil? A video purports to show the aftermath of an oily rain that has left a rainbow sheen on the streets of River Ridge, Louisiana. The EPA says that an oily rain is highly unlikely.

oil rain

Raining oil in Louisiana? An unsettling – and unverified – amateur video shows what appears to be the aftermath of an oily rain in Louisiana, some 45 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico. 

It's unclear from the video whether the oily sheen seen on the ground really fell from the sky. Crude oil normally doesn't evaporate, but some are speculating that oil mixed with Corexit 9500, the dispersant that BP is using on the ever-growing slick, could take to the air.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued statements saying that the agency "has no data, information or scientific basis that suggests that oil mixed with dispersant could possibly evaporate from the Gulf into the water cycle."

For weeks, the residents of Florida's northwest Panhandle had clung to a belief that the BP oil spill devastating the coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama would bypass their famous ivory-white beaches. Until now, it had: despite an intermittent spitting of tar balls and the encroachment of a thin petro-sheen on the horizon, charitable winds and currents kept the real mess from washing ashore and threatening the Panhandle's critical summer season — as well as Florida's $60 billion tourism industry.

Oil Rig Fire Mis-management and greed leads to biggest catastrophe in history

Exploding Rig’s Operator Has History of Safety Violations

By Lindsay Beyerstein - Eleven oil workers are still missing after a massive explosion and fire late Tuesday night on an oil rig off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico. The rig was under contract to BP Exploration and Production (BPEP).

Karl Grossman - Investigative reporter

depsys1What's happening now in the Gulf of Mexico will occur more often if the plan to open more offshore waters to oil and gas drilling moves ahead.

This is because such drilling and spillage are intertwined.

I learned about this 40 years ago after, as an investigative reporter for the Long Island Press, I broke the story about the oil industry seeking to drill in the offshore Atlantic.

It began with a tip from a fisherman who told of seeing in the ocean east of Montauk -- on the eastern tip of Long Island -- the same kind of ship he observed searching for oil when he was a shrimper in the Gulf of Mexico. I spent a day telephoning oil companies to be told by PR people from each that their companies were not involved in searching for oil in the Atlantic. As the day ended, as I walked out of the office, there was a call from a Gulf Oil PR representative saying that, yes, Gulf was involved in exploring for oil in the Atlantic as part of a "consortium" of 32 oil companies. These included the companies which all day issued denials. It was an initial experience in oil industry truthfulness.