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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal Joins Mayor Landrieu, St. Tammany Parish President Davis for Flyover and First-Hand Assessment of Coastal Protection Plans

NEW ORLEANS (May 14, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis and other local officials for a flyover of booming operations in Orleans and St. Tammany parishes as well as to view shoreline impact of the oil on the Chandeleur Islands. Governor Jindal met with local officials to assess the needs of the region and also get a first-hand look at the coastal protection plans.

At a press conference following the flyover, Governor Jindal highlighted St. Tammany Parish’s booming plan and the need for more boom in Orleans Parish. The Governor continued to stress that the state is not simply waiting for more boom, but instead, working with the National Guard and local officials to implement innovative techniques that will mitigate the impact of the oil spill.

Governor Jindal said, “The boom plans being carried out now will help protect St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, Livingston, St. John, St. Charles, and Orleans parishes. The protection of Chef Pass and the Rigolets prevents oil from getting into Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Maurepas.

“It is so important for us to prevent oil impact here. Lake Pontchartrain is the second-largest saltwater lake in the nation and the water quality here was just recently restored to healthy levels for swimming and fishing. This spill threatens to undo this great progress and that’s why we’re doing everything to we can to mitigate the impact of the spill on our shores. 

COASTAL PROTECTION TACTICS

The Governor continued to highlight the state’s aggressive efforts to address the boom shortage and lean forward by developing a number of innovative strategies to protect Louisiana’s fisheries, communities and ecosystem.

The Governor provided an update on some of alternative projects the state has initiated:

  • Elmer’s Island at Grande Isle: The National Guard already completed their mission there this week to close a 785-foot gap at Elmer’s Island. Some engineers are remaining on site to maintain the sand bridge built there.

 

  • Port Fourchon Sandbag Drop Operations: About 30 engineers from the 928th Engineer Company are filling five total gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.  Operations started Tuesday and they have already completed their work to close a 150-foot gap near Thunder Bayou and another 15-foot gap there, as well as a 25-foot gap further west on the island.

      Engineers in Fourchon are now transitioning to ground operations with dump trucks to reinforce the areas where sandbags were dropped earlier this week. These ground operations will also fill the remaining two gaps of the five total gaps that need to be filled in the Port Fourchon area.

  • 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. The National Guard began construction Wednesday by assembling and inflating a 500-foot test section of the dam. The National Guard has completed construction of nearly a mile of the dam already and they will continue to assemble and inflate additional sections of the dam today.

 

Governor Jindal said, “We are also moving forward on a dredge plan to build ‘sand booms’ along the alignment of our historic barrier islands in the Chandeleurs, Barataria Bay and Timbalier Bay. CPRA filed for an emergency permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this dredging plan. CPRA officials also met with federal officials to urge their support of the Corps granting this emergency permit so work can quickly begin. Once dredging begins, we could start to see land or ‘sand booms’ in place in around 10 days.

SANDBAG DROP OPERATIONS
Governor Jindal said, “While the dredging plan needs an emergency permit from the Army Corps of Engineers, we are not letting federal bureaucracy slow us down in our fight to protect the coast.

“Earlier this week, we asked National Guard representatives and CPRA engineers to identify points where we could take immediate action to protect our coast with sandbag drops. This sandbag drop mission complements the dredge plan by filling in small gaps on the island, while the dredging will reestablish the barrier island chains.  

“The National Guard and CPRA worked together and conducted aerial and boat reconnaissance missions earlier this week that pinpointed 40 sites along the coastline where they can drop sandbags now.”

Of these 40 total sites, the National Guard already dropped 40 sandbags in one gap at Pelican Island yesterday – and they will continue dropping bags to fill that gap today. The National Guard and CPRA have prioritized eight priority points on Pelican Island and six second tier priority points on Scofield Island in Plaquemines Parish for these sandbag drops.

Throughout the next several days, the National Guard will airlift approximately 1,200 large sand bags into the gaps at Pelican and Scofield Islands – where gaps total more than 1,700 feet. Pelican and Scofield Islands are located on the outskirts of Scofield Bay – approximately 7.5 miles south of Buras.

Governor Jindal said, “These bags are placed in gaps on the coast that are mainly a result of the 2005 and 2008 hurricanes. Filling these gaps will help fortify our coast and work to prevent oil from flowing closer to land and sensitive marsh areas to support our coastal communities.”

Additionally, the Governor said the state is already running diversions from Caernarvon, Ostrica and many others to help prevent oil from getting into coastal wetlands. All four gates on Bayou Lamoque are now open to divert water to the west bank of Plaquemines Parish. Hesco baskets have also been approved to help protect our coast and there are plans to have the National Guard use them on the western coast.

OIL IMPACT ON COAST & WILDLIFE
DEQ has confirmed shoreline impact at Fourchon Beach, Chandeleur Island, Whiskey Island/Trinity Island, Raccoon Island, and South Pass. DEQ has also confirmed visible sheen emanating from the marsh at the southeastern most part of Pass a Loutre, light sheen coming off of the west tip of Whiskey Island and drifting into Caillou Bay, and oil sheen near the beach at Trinity Island and Raccoon Island.

The Governor said that the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) found an oiled Brown Pelican yesterday on the rocks along Bayou Rigaud, across from Sand Dollar Marina. Biologists collected the pelican and brought it to veterinarians for rehabilitation.

LDWF and SCAT teams also inspected the Fourchon beach yesterday and found a substantial number of tar balls, some up to eight inches in diameter. Biologists also found tar balls on the banks of Belle Pass, which is a few hundred yards north of the mouth of the waterway. Biologists documented approximately 25 nickel-sized tar balls per square foot from the southwestern end of Fourchon beach to the midpoint of the beach. One biologist documented more than a dozen tar balls on the far west end of Elmer’s Island.

Fourchon Beach and South Pass are scheduled for clean up operations as early as today, along with Whiskey Island, Trinity Island and the Chandeleur Islands – depending on weather conditions.

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