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Originally published Monday, May 17, 2010 at 8:25 PM

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Coast Guard: Tar balls found off Key West, Fla.

The U.S. Coast Guard says 20 tar balls have been found off Key West, Fla., but the agency stopped short of saying whether they came from a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Associated Press

KEY WEST, Fla. —

The U.S. Coast Guard says 20 tar balls have been found off Key West, Fla., but the agency stopped short of saying whether they came from a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Some 5 million gallons of crude has spewed into the Gulf and tar balls have been washing ashore in several states along the coast.

Scientists are worried that oil is getting caught in a major ocean current that could carry it through the Florida Keys and up the East Coast.

The Coast Guard says the Florida Park Service found the tar balls on Monday during a shoreline survey. The balls were 3-to-8 inches in diameter.

Coast Guard Lt. Anna K. Dixon said no one at the station in Key West was qualified to determine where the tar balls originated. They have been sent to a lab for analysis.

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