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Governor Jindal Stresses Importance of Land Bridges and Sand Booming in Fight to Protect Coast During Fourchon Visit

PORT FOURCHON (May 27, 2010) - Governor Bobby Jindal, Grande Isle Mayor David Carmardelle and Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph walked on East Grande Terre today to view the state’s dredging operation currently underway to produce sand boom as part of the state’s ongoing fight to protect the coast from the BP oil spill. Governor Jindal and officials stressed the importance of the ongoing dredging operation and called for the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard to quickly get to work on the one section they approved today so they could then begin work on the five other sections they said they support.

Governor Jindal said, “We need this first project to be done as quickly as possible so work on the next five segments can get underway. We are calling on the federal government to get this two-mile segment done quickly. We know it works, we have seen it work, but if they need to see it work, they need to do that quickly. We don’t want the federal government creating excuses for BP. They could have built nearly 10 miles of sand boom already if they would have approved our permit request when we originally requested it.

“This first segment is only two miles of a 100-mile sand boom plan. This work must be done quickly so they can then get to work on the other segments of our sand boom plan. There are really only two options here for the federal government – either the sand boom works on this segment or it doesn’t. We already know it does. We have seen it work. If it does, they need to move quickly on getting BP to pay for all the other segments in our plan – just as they said they will do for this first segment. This is BP’s spill. They are the responsible party, but we expect the federal government to hold them accountable and ensure that they act responsibly. We want our entire sand boom coastal protection plan approved and we are continuing to ask the federal government and BP to approve this plan quickly.

“We encourage the Army Corps of Engineers and Incident Command to continue the review of our other proposed components.  Our entire coast is important.  There are millions of gallons of oil now floating above and below the surface of the Gulf.  This oil will continue to threaten our coast for months or years.  Every day we wait is another day where thousands of gallons of oil pollute our wetlands, our estuaries, our fishing grounds, our coastal communities and our way of life.

“We have had ships out conducting surveys of pipelines, confirming sand sources and other important work for several days.  Last week, we also requested that BP and the Coast Guard immediately approve the mobilization of dredges to further expedite the deployment of this sand boom plan and we are still waiting on their action to support this request.”

The one segment of the state and coastal parish sand boom plan to protect Louisiana is on a two-mile gap of an island off Plaquemines Parish. The state’s total sand boom plan requests work on 24 segments totaling around 100 miles to protect the coast from millions of gallons of BP oil spilling into the Gulf.

Today, the Governor and local elected officials visited the state-directed dredging work ongoing at East Grande Terre, near Grande Isle to stress the effectiveness of sand boom/dredging operations in preventing oil from intruding into the interior wetlands. The state-directed project at East Grande Terre is a roughly 2.5-mile project where work on the sand boom plan began last week when the Governor quickly redirected the dredge on that project. 

Governor Jindal said, “We have been frustrated by the response to this spill that has often meant too little too late and we have started taking matters into our own hands. Last Friday, we redirected a dredge conducting restoration work on East Grand Terre – which is east of Grand Isle – to immediately begin constructing sand boom called for in our dredging/sand-boom plan. Dredging was already underway to restore the barrier island in East Grand Terre as a coastal restoration project and we re-routed this project in support of our sand-boom plan because we wanted to do whatever we could to keep more oil out of our marshes and off of our coast while we waited for approval from the Corps and the Coast Guard on our plan.
“Again, this is why we need to fight against this spill on every front we can. This is not just about our wetlands and our environment – indeed, our land and our marshes support our economy and our way of life. We are in a fight for our state’s future. During this time of year the exact place where we stood today would be full of economic activity, fishermen and shrimpers – but today the beaches are largely empty because of this oil spill.”

Governor Jindal said the state also moved forward on initiatives this week to fill the void in response efforts by BP and the Coast Guard. The Governor said, “We developed a strategy for state and parish officials to have better situational awareness of the oil’s movement. The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries divided the coast into sections and they patrol these sectors continuously so containment and cleanup efforts are operationalized quickly. We are communicating our findings to BP and the Coast Guard on a daily basis to ensure our coast is continuously monitored and quickly cleaned. We are releasing these reports publicly each day so BP is held accountable for their cleanup efforts. We have agreed to the Coast Guard’s request and made available our web EOC process so they have better situational awareness and real-time data for where oil is sighted and then how quickly workers are dispatched to clean areas.

“We also asked the Coast Guard to refocus their efforts so that they have greater command and control on the ground where action needs to be taken quickly to save our coast. We asked the Coast Guard to forward-deploy personnel with decision-making authority in every basin area of the coast so they can work closely with parish officials there and see the impact of the oil first-hand so they are better able to have eyes on the problem and respond quickly. We need folks in each basin that can mobilize resources quickly to contain oil when it arrives and not wait 24 hours or 48 hours.”

The Governor highlighted seven specific areas where the state is moving ahead in its fight to protect the coast from the BP oil spill. The seven areas include:

  • Protecting Marshes: In Plaquemines, Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard parishes the state is working with parish officials to establish a Marsh Fringe Barrier – a combination of plugs and berms – to keep surface oil from penetrating our interior marshes. State coastal officials are also looking at ways remnant ridges can be bolstered to create a seal that would prevent oil from entering the interior waters. In Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, they are identifying east to west canals that could be fortified with boom to serve as a seal to prevent surface oil from further intruding into the marshes.
  • Trinity Bayou Fill: The National Guard also conducted an aerial reconnaissance mission with state coastal restoration personnel to the Timbalier Islands and Trinity Bayou to develop action plans for gap fill operations there.  Based on this mission, they are now filling a 115-foot gap near Trinity Bayou – and 84 sandbags were dropped there yesterday.
  • Hesco Baskets: The National Guard has deployed two and a half miles of Hesco baskets in the Fourchon area.
  • Landbridges: National Guard engineers continue to conduct maintenance on the land bridges at Elmer’s Island and Thunder Bayou – which have been actively holding oil back from entering interior wetlands. National Guard engineers have filled five gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon. 
  • Tiger Dams: National Guard engineers are working to secure 7.1 miles of Tiger Dams in Southwest Pass and approximately five miles of Tiger Dams have been staged on Grand Isle, which the National Guard is installing in coordination the mayor. Over 2 ¾ miles of the Tiger Dams in Southwest Pass is completed and an additional two miles of single layer Tiger Dams was also erected.
  • Sand-Fill Operations: CPRA and the National Guard have leaned forward and identified approximately 40 total locations where gaps in 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. On Pelican Island, the National Guard has dropped over 1,190 sandbags to date. Four of the eight gaps on Pelican Island have been completed and they are continuing work on the 5th gap on Pelican Island today, which is approximately 300 feet wide and three feet deep. They also began working the first gap out of six on Schofield Island and emplaced over 84 sandbags at that location to date. The state also requested larger-capacity Chinook helicopters to join this effort and Chinooks from Florida and Mississippi arrived yesterday, while more from Missouri and Illinois should arrive today to support these operations. The Governor said the state also requested that BP augment these efforts with private contractors and the state is awaiting BP’s response to this request.
  • Freshwater Diversions: The state is currently operating all freshwater diversions they control to flush fresh water down into the Gulf.    


Oil Impact Update

DEQ has confirmed shoreline impacts to date on the Chandeleurs Islands, Whiskey Island, Trinity Island, Raccoon Island, South Pass, Fourchon Beach, Grand Isle, Elmer's Island, Pass A Loutre, Brush Island, Marsh Island, Lake Raccourci, East Timbalier Island, Devil’s Bay shoreline, and Grand Terre. Cleanup operations are scheduled today for Grande Isle and Fourchon.

Governor Jindal said, “As this oil continues to hit our coast, we are identifying second and third lines of defense. This is why we need more boom, skimmers and jack-up barges – as originally requested under a worst-case scenario plan. In the last 24 hours, we have received 22,400 feet of hard boom and exactly 22,400 feet was deployed – which again shows how important it will be for us to continue to get more boom as we stand up additional lines of defense against these waves of oil that continue to hit our coast. To date, more than 101 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline have been impacted by this oil spill. That is more than the entire sea coastline of Mississippi and Alabama combined.”



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