Gov. Jindal: Heavy Oil Now in Louisiana's Wetlands
VENICE (May 19, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal joined Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and other local officials for a meeting and boat tour off the coast of Plaquemines Parish in the Pass a Loutre area where he observed firsthand substantial oil impact on Louisiana’s wetlands. The Governor and local officials rode through and inspected thick, dark oil that has made its way into the state’s fragile wetlands. The Governor held a press conference in Venice following the tour where he renewed his plea to the Army Corps of Engineers to issue an emergency permit so the dredging plan can begin quickly.
Governor Jindal said, “We saw some heavy oil stranded in the wetlands. The oil is no longer just a projection or miles from our shore. The oil is here. It is on our shores and in our marsh.
“To put this in perspective, our state has already lost 2,300 square miles of coastal lands since the 1930s. This is like losing the entire state of Rhode Island or Delaware. This is the same area that is home to one of our nation's most productive estuaries. We have been working aggressively to reverse this trend of coastal land and wetlands loss.
“Today – we saw clearly that this oil has the potential to stop and reverse the progress we have made in the last two years. Our state was on track to have the lowest rate of land loss in 80 years as a result of our efforts and investments in our coast. Our shrimpers were rebounding, our oyster fishermen were recovering and our coastal communities were rebuilding.
“This spill fundamentally threatens Louisiana's way of life. The oil is here and the time to act is now. We are asking the Corps to approve our dredging plan today without any further delay. We have already asked the Coast Guard to approve advancing the resources we will need to implement this plan, including barges and other dredging ships, so we can get to work quickly.”
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. The state has boats out conducting surveys. Magnetometers were used to identify existing pipelines, and side-scan sonar used to develop images of the seafloor. Sampling and assessments are being performed to identify contaminated sediments and to ensure that the materials are safe and the receiving areas are clean.
STRATEGIES TO PROTECT LOUISIANA’S COAST
“We continue to be concerned about the shortage of boom in parishes west of the river and we’re pushing the Coast Guard and BP for more boom in these and other sensitive areas.”
The Governor reiterated that he is not simply waiting for more boom, and instead, the state continues to pursue alternative options to booming. Governor Jindal said, “We are aggressively pursuing booming alternatives, as that is only one tool in the toolbox.”
The Governor provided an update on various alternative projects being pursued to contain the oil:
As of this morning, the National Guard has now dropped 220 sandbags on Pelican Island to completely fill the first gap there, which was around 200 feet. They will begin to fill the second gap there today. There are eight gaps total in the plan for Pelican Island and another six gaps that need to be filled with sand bags in the plan for Scofield Island. Also, the National Guard’s staging area in Buras is now operational – which allows Blackhawks lifting the sandbags to make more trips more quickly and help speed up the work there.
Freshwater Diversions: The state is also already running a variety of freshwater diversions to push freshwater out to protect the shore.