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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal   Coastal Parish Leaders Meet with Army Corps of Engineers to Stress Importance of Approving Dredging Plan

BATON ROUGE (May 17, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and coastal parish leaders met with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stress the importance of approving the dredging plan to restore Louisiana’s historic barrier islands and mitigate the impact of the oil spill on the coast. For the meeting and the press conference, Governor Jindal was joined by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet, Grand Isle Mayor David Carmardelle, Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Jefferson Parish Councilmen Chris Roberts and Tom Capella and other local officials.

Before the press conference, Governor Jindal joined BP COO Doug Suttles for a flyover of the oil spill and the leak site. At the press conference, the Governor noted that BP’s announcement about the tube insertion yesterday is a positive development, but said there’s still much work to be done until this crisis is over for the state.

Governor Jindal said, “I want to start off touching on BP’s announcement yesterday that they were able to insert a tube into the leak. This is a positive development, but I want to stress that we are nowhere close to the finish line. Oil continues to pour into the Gulf and has hit our shores. I want to be clear on this point: This disaster will not be over for Louisiana until our water and our shores are completely clean and our wildlife, our communities, and our coastal industries are one hundred percent restored.

“NOAA briefed us that Louisiana now has 29 miles of oiled shoreline – since the beginning of this incident. We had shoreline impact of oil specifically at Trinity Island, Whiskey Island, South Pass, Chandeleur Islands, Fourchon Beach, Raccoon Island and Grand Isle. Oil sheen was reported in Pass a Loutre. There are also new, unconfirmed reports of oil on Marsh Island – which is in Iberia Parish.”

The Governor also said he remains concerned about reports regarding the possibility of a large volume of oil below the surface of the water and that he will continue to push aggressively for alternatives to boom that will protect the state’s coast.

Governor Jindal said, “We continue to be very concerned that there may be a large volume of oil below the surface. That is why it is so important that we continue to lean forward and pursue aggressive solutions to protect our coasts.

“Booming is one option – but we know we cannot only count on boom to protect our coast, especially as the supply of boom continues to fall short of what is needed to protect many areas. We continue to push the Coast Guard and BP to get more boom to sensitive areas, but we are also aggressively pursuing alternatives to boom that would help protect the coast.”

Dredging Plan

The Governor said the state continues to move forward on a dredge plan to build “sand booms” along the alignment of Louisiana’s historic barrier islands in the Chandeleurs, Barataria Bay and Timbalier Bay.

Governor Jindal said, “CPRA filed for an emergency permit last week from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this plan and we just met with the Col. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers along with parish leaders to stress the importance of approving this plan quickly and granting our emergency permit to get the work started. NOAA’s report that tar balls washed up on Marsh Island – which is over 200 miles from the Horizon well explosion site – further underscores the need for us to implement the dredge plan – or ‘sand booming’ strategy.

“We presented this plan almost two weeks ago because we expected to need greater defenses than boom on the top of the water. We are very concerned about reports of oil submerged under the water. This ‘sand booming’ plan we are asking the Corps to approve will strengthen our barrier islands and help protect our coast and critical wildlife areas.

“Once we get approval for dredging to begin, we could start to see land or ‘sand booms’ in place in around 10 days. We need to get this plan moving as quickly as possible.”

Some other alternatives to boom include: Tiger Dams in Plaquemines Parish, filling in sand in Elmer’s Island and sandbag drops in Fourchon. Below is an update on the projects:

  • Elmer’s Island at Grand Isle: National Guard engineers continue to backfill gaps in the vicinity of Elmer’s Island where they closed a 785-foot gap last week.
  • 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. Teams are currently working simultaneously in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou and also on the western side of Elmer’s Island. Engineers are working from each end to the center to backfill five cuts on the island. Gap 1 on the east end is 30 percent complete and Gap 5 on the west end is about 15 percent complete. The National Guard already closed a large 150-foot gap there last week.
  • 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. Engineer crews have obtained 18 additional pumps to accelerate construction efforts when operations resume. Yesterday, National Guardsmen also positioned 92 pallets of Tiger Dam to Grand Isle for future deployment – which is around 7 miles of dam material.
  • Sand-Fill: CPRA and the National Guard have also leaned forward and identified approximately 40 total locations where gaps in Louisiana’s 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.
    The National Guard has already dropped 85 sandbags to date on Pelican Island. National Guard engineers are moving ground operations to support this effort from Grand Isle to Buras Middle School today to prepare for full-scale operations tomorrow.
  • Hesco Baskets: The state also recently got approval to deploy Hesco baskets on the backside of Grand Isle and in Cameron Parish to protect the shorelines there.
  • Freshwater Diversions: The state is also already running a variety of freshwater diversions to push freshwater out to protect the shore.

Clean-Up

Ground teams are being deployed today to clean: Whiskey Island, Trinity Island Fourchon Beach – and also South Pass and the Chandeleur Islands, if weather permits.

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