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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal and Plaquemines Parish Officials Visit Oiled Wildlife Rehab Center, Fly Over Chandeleur Islands & See Oil Sheen and Shoreline Impact

VENICE (May 12, 2010) - Governor Bobby Jindal, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and other parish officials flew over the Chandeleur Islands today and stressed the importance of alternative booming strategies, following the Governor’s visit to the oiled wildlife rehab center at Fort Jackson in Buras.

Regarding the stop in Buras this morning, the Governor highlighted the importance of the wildlife rehabilitation efforts there. Governor Jindal said, “We saw one of the Brown Pelicans they have cleaned and continue to rehabilitate and the wildlife experts demonstrated the cleaning process they go through to decontaminate the birds that have been oiled. They recently received one Laughing Gull that they plan to decontaminate later today. The response team at the center also told us that another oiled Northern Gannet was delivered there last night, but unfortunately did not survive until the morning.

“Days ago, we cut through the red tape of licensing requirements to ensure that veterinarians from all across the country could work at this facility and treat animals hurt by the oil spill. We are very appreciative of all the wildlife experts who work at Fort Jackson each day helping the wildlife that make Louisiana’s coast the best in the world.”

About 22 birds in total have been delivered to Fort Jackson since the beginning of the oil spill. Five of these birds were oiled and needed treatment and two have been cleaned and are being rehabilitated, including one brown pelican and one green heron. The Center has released two birds so far – one Northern Gannet and one Brown Pelican. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, staged 3,000 animal crates at the Fort Jackson site in Plaquemines.

The wildlife rehab center reports that Gulf birds in danger from this spill include: the Brown Pelican, Royal Terns, Caspian Terns, the American Oystercatcher, Wilson’s Plover, Snowy Plover, Mottled Duck, Clapper Rail, Black Rail, and Seaside Sparrow. Indeed, nearly half the southeastern population of Brown Pelicans live in the northern Gulf Coast, generally nesting on protected islands. The bird was just recently removed from the Endangered Species List.

The Governor stressed that anyone who sees wildlife in distress should not attempt to recover oiled or injured wildlife, as it may hurt the person or the animal. If an oiled animal is found, individuals are urged to call 1-866-557-1401.

STATE NEEDS MORE BOOMING RESOURCES

Governor Jindal again stressed the state’s need for more booming resources. Governor Jindal said, “On our visit to Terrebonne Parish yesterday, I stressed the need for more boom in Terrebonne, Lafourche, and St. Mary parishes and the other areas of our coast west of the River. These areas need more boom quickly to protect their coast. I want to be very clear that we need more boom in Louisiana.   

“Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, Jefferson, and St. Bernard parishes all have outstanding requests for boom with the Coast Guard. We are again today urging the Coast Guard and BP to put this boom where it is most immediately needed.”

AGGRESSIVE ACTION TO PROTECT COAST

Governor Jindal outlined many of the efforts underway to protect the coast, while the state continues to urge more booming resources for those parishes in need.

The Governor said, “In an effort to address the boom shortage, we are leaning forward and developing a number of innovative strategies to protect our fisheries, communities and ecosystem. These include Tiger Dams in Plaquemines Parish, filling in sand in Elmer’s Island and sandbag drops in Port Fourchon. We are also moving forward on a dredge plan to build sand booms along the alignment of our historic barrier islands. The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority filed for an emergency permit yesterday from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this dredging plan. The Corps has already agreed to release dredges from their contracts to speed up work on this plan once it is approved.

“Today, National Guard representatives and CPRA engineers are flying our barrier islands and visiting them by boat to confirm coordinates and to mark sights for airdrops and filling gaps with heavy equipment. We have identified approximately 40 locations, including 10 locations on the east side of the Barataria Island chain near Scofield Island and Pelican Island, where gaps could be filled. Additional areas will be identified from today’s reconnaissance mission. We have submitted these locations to the Coast Guard for their approval.

“We also submitted a request to use Hesco baskets to protect our coast from oil. This plan was originally submitted to the Coast Guard and rejected, but we have now refined it and are proposing to use the baskets in parts of Grande Isle and also at Queen Bess Island as an alternative to boudin bags.

“In Plaquemines Parish, we are already running diversions from Caernarvon, Ostrica and many others to flush freshwater into our wetlands – preventing oil from getting into our coastal wetlands. Three of the four gates on Bayou Lamoque were opened yesterday to divert water to the west bank of Plaquemines Parish.”

NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE

Governor Jindal also gave an update on the National Guard’s efforts in the fight to protect the Louisiana coast, regarding their three active missions:

  • Elmer’s Island at Grande Isle Update: About 46 engineers from the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company are working to close the 700-foot gap at Elmer’s Island. These are 24-hour operations and they expect to complete closing the gap by the end of Wednesday.
  • Port Fourchon Sandbag Drop Operations Update: About 30 engineers from the 928th Engineer Company are filling five total gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.  Operations started yesterday and they expect to close the first gap of the five – a 150-foot gap near Thunder Bayou – by the end of today. They will then begin work on the next gap, which is also 150-feet wide. This sandbag drop operation uses about two 2,000-pound sandbags dropped from black hawk helicopters and they expect to also complete this mission by today.
  • Tiger Dam Project at Southwest Pass: Around 42 engineers from the 528th Engineer Battalion are working to secure 7.1 miles in Southwest Pass with tiger dams. They are prepositioning materials today and expect to start standing up the dams tomorrow.

OIL IMPACT

Governor Jindal also reported today that LDWF confirmed that there are tar balls at South Pass in Plaquemines Parish. LDWF technicians working with oil spill response crews on boom maintenance around the Pass a Loutre Wildlife Management Area spotted the tar balls.

DEQ confirmed shoreline impact at Chandeleur Island and the agency also reported visible sheen approximately six miles south of Port Fourchon and sheen coming off the west tip of Whiskey Island. Trinity Island, nearby, is reported to have emulsified oil bands. SCAT teams are being sent today to Raccoon Island in Terrebonne to investigate possible impact on the beach there. Rapid Assessment Teams by boat and air are going out in the Port Fourchon area to verify oil reported off of Grand Isle. Cleanup operations are planned today for South Pass, Whiskey Island, and the Chandeleur area.

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