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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal Meets with Coastal Parish Leaders, Announces New Strategies to Protect Coast to Fill Void

BATON ROUGE (May 23, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal met with parish leaders from across the coast to assess resources and announce strategies they are pursuing to fill the void they are currently seeing in response efforts to stop the oil spill.  Before the meeting, Governor Jindal joined Plaquemines Parish President Nungesser for a meeting and boat tour of Cat Island off the coast of Plaquemines Parish, where they saw first-hand some substantial oil impact on a bird sanctuary that included Louisiana’s state bird, the Brown Pelican, which only recently was removed from the Endangered Species List. 

Governor Jindal said, “Today, we went on a boat tour and saw first-hand the damage at Cat Island off the coast of Plaquemines Parish. It is clear that the resources needed to protect our coast are still not here.  Boom, skimmers, vacuums, jack up barges are all in short supply. Oil sits and waits for clean up – and every day more of our marsh dies.

“We met here again with coastal parish leaders – just like we all did when we formed our own detailed parish protection plans when it became clear that BP did not have any detailed plans of their own – because we know we have to take action and take matters into our own hands if we are going to win this fight to protect our coast. We met with key state officials, parish presidents, emergency operations professionals, levee district officials and others to discuss strategies to fill the void we are currently seeing in response efforts to stop this oil. 

“We came up with a number of new strategies designed to fill the current void in response efforts. We developed a strategy for state and parish officials to conduct daily coastal surveys of Louisiana’s coast and offshore areas.  Wildlife and Fisheries will be the lead patrol agents, examining the coast along their seven existing patrol divisions. Their efforts will be supported by the National Guard and parish officials, as needed. We will communicate our findings to BP and the Coast Guard on a daily basis to ensure our coast is closely monitored and quickly cleaned. We will report these findings publicly each day so media and the public can keep updated.

“We have also identified additional equipment and personnel available from parishes, state agencies and levee districts that will help us take our own proactive measures to keep oil out of our of marshes.  We plan to use this equipment to expand ongoing efforts by the National Guard to close gaps in our coastal areas. We already have 40 cuts identified and 14 prioritized. We are identifying additional cuts and we will work to expedite fill-in efforts wherever we can with equipment from the state and parishes pooled together. The National Guard is requesting Chinooks to help expedite these operations.”

For the meeting, Governor Jindal was joined by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis, Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph, St. Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro, Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet, St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin, Grand Isle Mayor David Carmardelle, Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts,

The Governor emphasized the requests – including the state’s dredging plan – made to BP and federal agencies that have yet to be granted while miles of Louisiana’s shoreline continue to be impacted by oil. According to NOAA, more than 65 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline has now been impacted by oil. To put this in perspective – this is more than the total sea coastline of Delaware and Maryland combined.

Governor Jindal said, “On May 2nd – 21 days ago – we met with the Coast Guard, the President and federal officials here in Venice. At that time, we leaned forward and requested a large amount of resources that our parishes would need under a worst-case scenario response to this oil spill. In fact, the very next day, May 3rd, we announced all of our coastal parish detailed protection plans – in the absence of any detailed plan from BP – and I said that we had formally requested three million feet of absorbent boom, five million feet of hard boom and 30 ‘jack up’ barges.

“I said at the time that we did not expect to get all these resources the very next day, but that we saw the slow timeframe for turning around the requests we made and we wanted to lean forward and request the resources required to protect coastal Louisiana under the worst case scenario. Today is May 23rd. We have received a total of 786,185 feet of hard boom to date. Not even a million feet.

“A total of 643,148 feet of hard boom out of this total has been deployed and the remaining 143,037 feet of hard boom is sitting in staging areas, while often contractors sit and wait for orders from BP on where to deploy it.  While this boom sits, oil is hitting our shores. Mile after mile of our shoreline is now oiled. This also means we are running out of boom on hand to deploy.

“On April 30th, we requested a Commercial Fisheries Failure from the U.S. Department of Commerce to activate critical assistance to our fishermen and our multi-billion a year fishing industry that is suffering from this oil spill. This request has still not been granted as of today.

“We have also been waiting on a decision on our dredging/sand-boom plan from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for nearly two weeks. We made modifications suggested by the Corps and answered every question they submitted in the same day. Even more than all of our written responses – a picture is worth a thousand words. For days, we have had press conferences showing how sand-booming works. We have showed pictures of sand in Fourchon actively holding oil back from traveling further inland.

“I want to be clear about this – We have only two options: we can fight the battle of removing oil in our thousands of miles of fragmented wetlands that serve as a critical nursery for wildlife or we can stop the oil 15 to 20 miles off of our coast at sand booms. Every day we are not given the authorization to move forward and create more of these sand booms is another day where that choice is made for us and more and more miles of our shore are hit by oil.”

OIL IMPACT
DEQ has confirmed shoreline impacts to date on Chandeleur Island, Whiskey Island, Trinity Island, Raccoon Island, South Pass, Fourchon Beach, Grand Isle, Elmers Island, Pass a L’Outre, Brush Island, and Marsh Island.

SCAT operations yesterday afternoon recorded heavy oil impact at South Pass and Pass a L’Outre with sporadically impacted shoreline; sheen on Timbalier Bay; emulsified oil patches around E. Timbalier; oiled beach at Fourchon; oiling on E. Timbalier Island – and an unconfirmed report of a dead bird in this area.

BOOM ALTERNATIVES
The Governor provided an update on the various projects the state is undertaking as an alternative to booming:

Hesco Baskets: The National Guard has deployed 1 mile of Hesco baskets in the Port Fourchon area.

Elmer’s Island at Grande Isle: National Guard engineers continue to conduct maintenance on the land bridge.

Port Fourchon Sandbag Drop Operations: Engineers are filling five total gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon. Engineers have already filled Gap 1 and Gap 5, and they are working on Gap 3. 

Tiger Dam Project at Southwest Pass: Engineers are working to secure 7.1 miles in Southwest Pass with Tiger Dams. Approximately 2.5 miles of the Tiger Dam is now completed and Guardsmen also erected an additional 2 miles of single layer Tiger Dam to provide initial coverage over the shoreline.

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 625 sandbags on Pelican Island to completely fill four of the 8 gaps on the island. They are working to fill the fifth gap there today. 

Freshwater Diversions: We are operating all freshwater diversions controlled by the state.

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