Ted Jackson, a photographer for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans, said Saturday that access to the spill "is slowly being strangled off."
A CBS news story said one of its reporting teams was threatened with arrest by the Coast Guard and turned back from an oiled beach at the mouth of the Mississippi River. The story said the reporters were told the denial was under "BP's rules."
U.S. Coast Guard and Federal Aviation Administration officials said BP PLC, the company responsible for cleaning up the spill, was not controlling access.
Coast Guard officials also said there was no intent to conceal the scope of the disaster. Rather, they said, the spill's complexity had made it difficult to allow the open access sought by the media.
Coast Guard Lt. Commander Rob Wyman said personnel involved in the CBS dispute said no one was threatened with arrest.
Vessels responding to the spill are surrounded by a 500 yard "standoff area" with restricted access, he said.
"If we see anybody impeding operations, we're going to ask you to move. We're going to ask you to back up and move away," he said.
BP contractors are operating alongside the FAA and Coast Guard at command centers that approve or deny flight requests. Charter pilots say they have been denied permission to fly below 3,000 feet when they have reporters or photographers aboard.
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