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Bush Aide: Uranium Flap a 'Bunch of Bull'

Bush Aide: Uranium Flap a 'Bunch of Bull'

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SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (AP) -- The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning Monday for more than 200 miles of Texas coastline as Tropical Storm Claudette gathered strength in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil and natural gas companies evacuated hundreds of workers from drilling and production rigs in the Gulf, campers headed inland from coastal areas, and surfers were warned to stay out of the waves. On South Padre Island, workers piled sand into berms at beach accesses, but Mayor Bob Pinkerton said there were no plans yet to evacuate the resort community. By Monday afternoon, Claudette's center was about 275 miles east of Corpus Christi, with maximum sustained wind blowing at 65 mph, still 9 mph shy of hurricane strength, the National Hurricane Center said. The center said the crew of an offshore oil rig reported wind gusts reaching 85 mph. National Weather Service forecasters said the storm could strengthen into a hurricane by Monday evening. It was moving north-northwest at about 6 mph. The hurricane warning was in effect from Baffin Bay, about 30 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, to the southern tip of Galveston Island. A hurricane watch covered an area from Baffin Bay south to Brownsville, and a tropical storm warning was in effect from Galveston Island to Cameron, La. ChevronTexaco Corp. said Monday that more than 1,400 of its workers had been evacuated from offshore platforms, although it had started sending people back to rigs in the eastern Gulf. Shell Oil Co., ExxonMobil Corp., Marathon Oil Corp., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Unocal Corp. also shut down some Gulf operations and brought workers ashore. "We're watching the storm very closely," said Anadarko spokeswoman Lee Warren. The Coast Guard said it was called in to search for 10 to 12 people who went out in the high waves at South Padre Island and got caught in strong currents. All were accounted for, including an 8-year-old girl on a boogie board who was carried down the beach more than a mile, said Petty Officer Third Class Andrew Kendrick. Farther up the coast, lifeguards on Mustang Island near Corpus Christi were expected to be out earlier and stay later Monday. Police were to help make sure beachgoers knew of the dangers. In the Corpus Christi area, city officials were concerned with the potential for coastal and inland flooding. An extra highway lane was being opened on a causeway from Padre Island to Corpus Christi to speed up voluntary evacuations. Owners of nearly 900 recreational vehicles had packed up voluntarily and left South Padre Island after being warned during the weekend that wind of more than 25 mph would mean they would not be allowed to drive their rigs across the sole bridge off the island. The storm had swept over Mexico's resort city of Cancun early Friday, battering high-rise hotels with high wind, flooding several streets and closing the international airport for several hours. Claudette is the third tropical storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. It developed Tuesday in the Caribbean, brushing Jamaica's southern coast with heavy rain and rough surf, battering the Cayman Islands with waves and above-normal tides and scattering rain over parts of Cuba before reaching Mexico. Experts have predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season, which began June 1 and ends Nov. 30. ------ On the Net: National Hurricane Center: (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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