Oil from Gulf spill creeps ashore in Louisiana
VENICE, Louisiana (Reuters) – Oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico came ashore on a chain of islands off the Louisiana coast on Thursday as BP Plc engineers prepared to start lowering a 98-ton metal chamber over the ruptured seabed well miles off the coast.

A sheen of oil washed ashore on much of Chandeleur Islands, barrier islands that are part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. response team said.

"That's the only shoreline oiling that we have been able to find," Jacqui Michel, an official with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said at a news briefing. "It is pretty amazing that we've had the oil in the water for this long a period of time and so little shoreline oiling."

The Breton refuge is an important breeding and nesting area for many endangered and threatened bird species.

Oiled birds, including gannets and brown pelicans, Louisiana's state bird, have been found on the islands, said Jeff Dauzat of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Obama administration officials and U.S. lawmakers kept up the pressure on BP to make good on its promises to pick up the tab for cleaning up what could end up being the largest oil spill in United States history.

"Very major mistakes" were made by companies involved in the deadly offshore rig explosion that led to the spill and no new offshore drilling permits will be issued until a review is complete, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said on Thursday.

A barge carrying the massive white containment box arrived at the spill site where a BP-owned well blew out two weeks ago 40 miles off the Louisiana coast, causing the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig.