Gov. Jindal Views Heavy Oil Impact off Louisiana Coast, Says State and Coastal Leaders Continue to Move Forward with Response Plans

May 27, 2010

VENICE (May 26, 2010) – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, James Carville, Mary Matalin and other officials for a meeting and boat tour off the coast of Plaquemines Parish to see first-hand the oil impact on Louisiana’s coastline. The Governor visited the Pass a Loutre area where he first saw substantial oil impact last week. Governor Jindal noted that the oil in the area remains heavy and dark and the impact to the marsh is devastating. Following the boat tour, the Governor held a press conference where he emphasized his partnership with coastal parish leaders to continue to move ahead with their own response plans to better protect the coast.

Governor Jindal said, “On Sunday, we gathered here in Plaquemines with coastal parish leaders to take matters into our own hands and fill the void in the response efforts. Today– we are back in Plaquemines, continuing the fight to protect our coast and our way of life from the oil that continues to spill into the Gulf.

“We have been fighting this oil for over a month now, requesting resources and too often finding the response to be too little, too late. Out of frustration, we met with coastal parish leaders on Sunday and we developed a strategy for state and parish officials to have better situational awareness of the oil’s movement within Louisiana’s coast and offshore areas.

“Wildlife and Fisheries has divided the coast into sections and will be patrolling these sectors continuously so that containment and cleanup efforts can be operationalized quickly. Their efforts are supported by the National Guard and parish officials. We also have begun communicating our findings to BP and the Coast Guard on a daily basis to ensure our coast is continuously monitored and quickly cleaned. Today, these reports will begin to also be publicly reported so BP is held accountable for their cleanup efforts.

“We also asked that the Coast Guard refocus their efforts so that they have greater command and control on the ground where action needs to be taken quickly to save our coast. We asked for the Coast Guard to forward-deploy personnel with decision-making authority in every basin area of the coast so they can work closely with parish officials and see the impact of the oil first-hand so they are better able to have eyes on the problem and respond quickly. We need folks in each basin that can mobilize resources quickly to contain oil when it arrives, and not wait 24 hours or 48 hours.

“I want to stress again that BP is the Responsible Party, but we need the federal government to make sure they are held accountable and that they are indeed responsible. Our way of life depends on it.”

MOVING AHEAD ON OUR OWN TO PROTECT THE COAST
The Governor announced a number of projects that state and coastal leaders are undertaking since they agreed to combine resources.

Governor Jindal said, “Taking matters into our own hands this week, we have already moved forward on a number of key initiatives. In Plaquemines, Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard parishes we are working with parish officials to establish a Marsh Fringe Barrier – a combination of plugs and berms – to keep surface oil from penetrating our interior marshes. We are also looking at ways remnant ridges could be bolstered to create a seal that would prevent oil from entering the interior waters. In Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, we are identifying east to west canals that could be fortified with boom to serve as a seal to prevent surface oil from further intruding into the marshes.

“The National Guard also conducted an aerial reconnaissance mission with the state coastal restoration agency to the Timbalier Islands and Trinity Bayou yesterday to develop action plans for gap fill operations. Based on this mission, they began today to fill a 115-foot gap near Trinity Bayou.”

The Governor stressed that he is not simply waiting for the Army Corps of Engineers to approve the dredging plan, and instead, the state is moving forward to protect the coast.

Governor Jindal said, “We are not waiting on federal approval from the Army Corps of Engineers to continue the fight to protect our coast. We will not let bureaucracy and red tape delay our action while oil hits our wetlands week after week. We already redirected a dredge conducting restoration work on East Grand Terre – which is east of Grand Isle – to immediately begin constructing a sand boom called for in our dredging/sand-boom plan.

“Dredging was already underway to restore the barrier island in East Grand Terre as a coastal restoration project and rerouting this project in support of our sand-boom plan will help us keep more oil out of our marshes and off of our coast. We are also currently evaluating our existing permit for work on Whiskey Island to see if we can use that permit to begin sand-boom work there.”

The Governor noted that the state is identifying second and third lines of defense to better protect the shoreline. He said “As this oil continues to hit our coast week after week, we are identifying second and third lines of defense. This is why we need more boom, skimmers and jack-up barges – as we originally requested under a worst-case scenario plan for 5 million feet of hard boom, 3 million feet of soft boom and 30 jack-up barges on May 2nd.

“Nearly a month later, we have received only 813,799 feet of hard boom to date and 680,435 feet of hard boom has been deployed. In the last 24 hours, we have received 28,089 feet of hard boom and deployed 30,000 feet – which again shows how important it will be for us to continue to get more boom as we stand up additional lines of defense against these waves of oil that continue to hit our coast.”

According to NOAA, more than 100 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline has been impacted by the oil spill. To put this in perspective, that is more than the entire sea coastline of Mississippi and Alabama combined.

BOOM ALTERNATIVE PROTECTION MEASURES
The Governor provided an update on the various measures the state is pursuing as an alternative to boom:

•Dredging Plan: The Governor said that he heard several federal officials, the Attorney General and a member of Louisianan congressional delegation on Monday that the Army Corps of Engineers seemed ready to approve about 45 miles of the dredging plan this week so the state could get to work quickly on beginning to build more of these sand booms to protect the coast.
The Governor noted that while there are no other details or confirmation that the permit will be granted, the state is asking again for swift action on the plan and then for the Coast Guard to quickly approve it and for BP to fund it.
•Hesco Baskets: The National Guard has deployed two and a half miles of Hesco baskets in the Fourchon area.
•Landbridges: National Guard engineers continue to conduct maintenance on the land bridges at Elmer’s Island and Thunder Bayou – which have been actively holding oil back from entering interior wetlands. National Guard engineers have filled five gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.
•Tiger Dam: National Guard engineers are working to secure 7.1 miles of Tiger Dams in Southwest Pass and approximately 5 miles of tiger dams have been staged on Grand Isle, which the National Guard is preparing to install today in coordination the Mayor. Over 2 ¾ miles of the Tiger Dam in Southwest Pass is completed and an additional two miles of single layer Tiger Dam was also erected.
•Sand-Fill Operations: The CPRA and the National Guard have leaned forward and identified approximately 40 total locations where gaps in barrier islands could be filled with sandbags or dump trucks of sand. This strategy would complement a more complete and extensive dredging/sand booming plan.
On Pelican Island, the National Guard has dropped over 1,075 sandbags to date. Four of the 8 gaps on Pelican Island have been completed and they are continuing work on the fifth gap on Pelican Island today, which is approximately 300 feet wide and three feet deep. They also began working the first gap out of six on Schofield Island and emplaced over 50 sandbags at that location yesterday. The state has also requested larger-capacity Chinook helicopters to join the effort this week. Chinooks will be coming from Florida and Mississippi today and Missouri and Illinois tomorrow to allow the state to move even faster. The state also requested that BP augment these efforts with private contractors – which is awaiting a response.
•Freshwater Diversions: The state is operating all freshwater diversions controlled by the state.

OIL IMPACT/CLEAN UP
DEQ reports shoreline impact to date on: the Chandeleur Islands, Whiskey Island, Trinity Island, South Pass, Fourchon Beach, Grand Isle /Elmers Island, Pass a Loutre, Brush Island, and Lake Raccourci, which is south of Houma. Clean up operations scheduled for today include: Pilot Bayou, Red Fish Bay, Pass a Loutre, Grande Isle and Fourchon.

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