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Governor Jindal and Local Officials Tour & Fly Over National Guard Coastal Operations in Grand Isle and Port Fourchon

PORT FOURCHON (May 10, 2010) -

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal, Senator David Vitter, Grand Isle Mayor David Carmardelle, Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, Jefferson Parish Councilmen Chris Roberts and Tom Capella and other local officials toured the National Guard’s efforts to protect the coast in Grand Isle and flew over their sandbag airlift operation off of Port Fourchon.

Governor Jindal said, “We are so proud of the men and women of our Louisiana National Guard. Around 1,100 personnel have been deployed so far in our fight to protect the coast and they are currently operating missions all along our shore.

“In Grand Isle today we went out to Elmer’s Island and spoke to many of the men and women who are part of the 46-member engineer team from the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company working to fill a 700-foot gap on the island. They’ve been working since Saturday and are already more than halfway complete and they are continuing to work 24-hours a day to fill in that cut of land and protect all the marsh that lies within that water pass.

Governor Jindal also spoke about the importance of protecting those areas west of the Mississippi River. The Governor said, “Lafourche Parish – along with Terrebonne Parish – continue to be areas of concern, as the weather projections from NOAA show the oil slick being pushed west over the early part of this week.

“In Lafourche Parish, the National Guard began today using 30 engineers from the 928th Engineer Company and two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to fill in five total gaps near Port Fourchon. In our flyover of these airlift operations, we saw them in Thunder Bayou working to fill the first of these five gaps – a 150-foot gap at the border of Lafourche and Jefferson parishes. They will use about 200 super bags of sand to fill this gap, and each bag can weigh up to 4,500 pounds and be six-feet wide. One of our top priorities today is to push the Coast Guard and BP to get Lafourche and Terrebonne the supplies they need to protect their coastline.

At the press conference today, Governor Jindal again highlighted the state’s concerns about BP’s use of dispersant under the water. Governor Jindal said, “We have already sent a letter to BP to ask them for specific safety protocols and testing procedures they put in place to ensure this sub-sea dispersant is safe for our wildlife and our people. We have not had any response back to this letter and we continue to have serious concerns about the use of dispersant. We continue to encourage BP and the Coast Guard to work with the EPA and scientists to ensure that there will not be any short-term or long-term harmful impact done from the presence of dispersant chemicals in the water.”

Governor Jindal said today that parish plans indicate Lafourche needs an estimated 14,000 feet of hard boom and Terrebonne officials need about 180,000 feet of hard boom. Lafourche has been told by the Coast Guard and BP that they should receive some booming resources today.

Governor Jindal said the National Guard will begin standing up tiger dams – a water filled bladder to help stop oil contamination – tomorrow in Southwest Pass to protect seven miles of coastline. The Governor also noted that today state and local officials are meeting with the Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to review dredging plans that will restore the coast and mitigate the impact of the oil spill.

The state is also appealing the Coast Guard’s previous rejection for the use of Hesco baskets.

Concerning the movement and oil in the water and its possible shoreline impact, Governor Jindal said, “DEQ is conducting aerial surveillance missions along the coast this morning to identify any new shoreline impact. They have unconfirmed reports already of sheen and some heavier streamers about 20 to 30 miles out of the Port Fourchon area.

“Reports from yesterday said there was unconfirmed oil sheen west and east of the Mississippi River out in the water. Of course, weather projections over the next few days show that we should expect oil to impact the shoreline – both west and east of the river – this week.”



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