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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal Joins Local Officials for Flyover of National Guard Operations in Plaquemines Parish, Observes Substantial Oil Impact
Gov. calls on Incident Command to immediately approve mobilization of dredges to implement sand boom plan

VENICE (May 18, 2010) - Following a flyover of National Guard operations in Plaquemines Parish today and a meeting with local officials, the Governor held a press conference where he said that he observed substantial oil impact in the Pass a Loutre area. The Governor said that the shoreline impact he saw today is why it’s so critical to quickly approve the dredging plan he proposed almost two weeks ago. The Governor requested that incident command immediately approve the mobilization of dredges so that they can be in position once the permit is approved and he also said the state is already taking steps in preparation for the beginning of dredging. 

For the flyover, Governor Jindal joined Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser where he assessed the National Guard’s sandbag drop operations in Pelican Island and their work on Tiger Dams at Southwest Pass. The Governor stressed that these are projects where the state is leaning forward to protect coastal areas as an alternative to boom.

Governor Jindal said, “In Plaquemines, just like our other coastal areas, we are leaning forward to pursue multiple avenues for protecting our coast. We know booming is one option – but 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 are pushing 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
Governor Jindal repeated his call for quick approval of the dredging plan that would create “sand booms” along the state’s historic barrier islands in the Chandeleurs, Barataria Bay and Timbalier Bay. The Governor noted that the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) filed for an emergency permit last week from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with the dredging plan. Governor Jindal stressed the importance of approving this plan quickly and granting an emergency permit to get the work started. Once dredging is approved, the Governor said land or “sand booms” could be in place in around ten days.

Governor Jindal said, “Today we are requesting that the incident command immediately approve the mobilization of dredges needed to implement the sand boom plan.  This will allow for dredges to begin moving to Louisiana now.  These boats will be in position once the emergency permit is approved. 

“This approval will allow for quicker action to ensure that our coastal wetlands are protected.  It will also assist in the removal of oil offshore by preventing floating or subsea oil from intruding further into our coastal areas. 

“In anticipation of receiving a permit from the Corps, the state has already begun steps to prioritize and determine the capacity of each sand borrow site needed to construct the sand boom. We have boats out today conducting surveys. Magnetometer scans will be used to identify existing pipelines and side scan sonar will be used to develop images of the seafloor. 

“Beginning today, sampling and assessments will be performed to identify contaminated sediments and ensure that the materials being used are safe and the receiving areas are clean.”

The Governor highlighted some other alternatives to boom and provided an update on those projects:

  • Elmer’s Island At Grand Isle: National Guard engineers continue to backfill gaps and conduct maintenance 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 now 50 percent complete and Gap 5 on the west end is about 40 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. Approximately one mile of the Tiger Dam is now completed and Guardsmen are currently assembling, laying out, and inflating additional sections. National Guardsmen have already 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 our 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.

As of this morning, the National Guard has now dropped 130 sandbags on Pelican Island to fill the first gap there – which is now about 90 percent complete. There are eight gaps total in the plan for Pelican Island and another six gaps that need to be filled with sand bags in our plan for Scofield Island.  Also, the National Guard’s staging area in Buras is now operational – which will allow the Blackhawks lifting the sandbags to make more trips more quickly and help speed up the work there.

  • 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. The National Guard expects to stand some of these up in Grand Isle this week.
  • Freshwater Diversions: The state is also already running a variety of freshwater diversions to push freshwater out to protect the shore.

SHORELINE IMPACT/CLEAN UP
Governor Jindal said, “To date, DEQ has confirmed shoreline impact on the Chandeleur Islands, Whiskey Island, Raccoon Island, South Pass, East Fourchon/Elmers Island, Grand Isle, Trinity Island, Brush Island, and the Pass a Loutre area.

“Booming today continues in MRGO and the Lake Borgne Areas. Crews are also working today to maintain boom on Raccoon Island, Fourchon beach, and Breton Island.

“Cleanup operations scheduled for today will target: South Pass, Chandeleur Islands, Whiskey and Trinity Islands and Fourchon/Elmers Island.”

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