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PRESS RELEASE

Governor Jindal, Coach Miles & President Nungesser Visit Sandbagging Operations off Plaquemines Coast, Highlight National Guard Work to Contain Oil Spill

BURAS (June 11, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal, LSU Football Coach Les Miles and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser visited the Louisiana National Guard’s sandbagging operations at Pelican and Scofield islands off the coast of Plaquemines Parish. Following the tour, the Governor held a press conference at Fort Jackson in Buras where he highlighted the National Guard’s work at Pelican and Scofield islands as well as their operations across the entire coast to contain and mitigate the impact of the oil spill. The Governor emphasized that the sandbagging operations at Pelican and Scofield islands – where they have dropped more than 14 million pounds of sand – will complement the state’s dredging/sand booming plan.

Governor Jindal said, “Today, we saw the National Guard’s sandbagging operations at Pelican and Scofield Islands. They are currently using eight helicopters to finish filling in the gaps in the islands there. These sandbags will compliment our dredging/sand booming activities in these areas.

“Weeks ago when we realized that the supply of boom was not predictable or dependable enough to count on, we asked the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the National Guard to identify locations where gaps in barrier islands could be immediately filled with sand. We are at war and we need to fight this oil on the sand – well before it ever gets into our marshes and interior wetlands. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the National Guard together identified 40 total areas that could be immediately filled with sand.

“At Pelican and Scofield islands, the National Guard is working on a total of 14 gaps. The 8 gaps on Pelican Island are complete – with a total of 3,300 sandbags dropped. Today, we saw the ongoing operations on nearby Scofield Island – which has received a total of more than 3,180 sandbags to date in the six gaps there.

“Also in Plaquemines Parish today, the National Guard is continuing to emplace small sandbags in six locations to reinforce the retention levee that stretches from Myrtle Grove and La Reussite. Two of the 6 sites were completed yesterday.”


DREDGING UPDATE
The monitoring report that had to be done as part of the state’s dredging/sand booming work was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers yesterday. On the Northern Chandeleurs (Section E4) the Cutterhead Dredge California is on schedule to begin pumping sand there over the weekend. The required pre-construction field surveys, including island surveys and wildlife observation are currently underway for segments E4 and W9, which is around Pelican Island.

The submerged pipeline is being established from Hewes Point – which is the sand source for the Northern Chandeleurs work – to the sand placement area in the Chandeleurs.

Governor Jindal said, “Last week, we started moving forward on our own to begin work on the six approved segments of our 24-segment dredging/sand booming plan to protect our coast. We activated a contract for this work with Shaw and Bean Dredging and we are working to move a total of six dredges into place to get this work done.”


VACUUM BARGES
In Plaquemines Parish, the National Guard’s oil suction operations are ongoing – using a military and a civilian vacuum barge. These two barges have removed over 8,000 gallons of oil to date. Another military barge is currently near Buras in Plaquemine Parish and they are awaiting commercial vacuum equipment to activate this third vacuum barge.

Yesterday, the Coast Guard approved a request for additional vacuum barges – which provided authorization to deploy 13 additional vacuum barges. The National Guard is working with vendors to activate these systems and the state will work with local officials to deploy them in the following areas: 4 in Plaquemines Parish, 3 in Jefferson Parish, 2 in Lafourche Parish, 2 in St Bernard Parish, and 2 in Terrebonne Parish.

Governor Jindal said, “Because of the effectiveness of these vacuum barges, we continue to ask the Coast Guard to make these operations scalable and ensure that each parish has the amount they need to remove oil from our marshes and our beaches.”

The state has also requested that the Army Corps of Engineers beneficially use dredged material from the Mississippi River for the state’s sand berms. The Corps of Engineers dredges the river to ensure safe navigation. Depositing the dredged material adjacent to our proposed sand berms will expedite the construction of the sand berms. This material is usually dumped into the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico.


ROCKS/BARGES UPDATE
Grand Isle David Mayor Carmardelle has been working on the development of a plan to close the passes to the east and west of Grand Isle. Governor Jindal met with the President last Friday and stressed the importance of the Coast Guard approving the use of rocks and barges to block oil from entering the Barataria Bay. This proposal has now been approved for use in Coup Abel Pass and Four Bayou Pass, and will then likely be deployed in Caminada Pass and Barataria Pass.

The first delivery of rock is scheduled to be staged in the Mississippi River by Tuesday. Barges are also being staged in anticipation of the permit being approved by the Corps. Jefferson Parish will submit a new permit for driving pilings in Pass Abel and Four Bayou Pass to anchor the barges.

This rock/barge barrier will help protect Grand Isle, Lafitte, and hundreds of thousands of acres of prime fishing grounds in Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes from oil pollution. This initiative will narrow the passes and establish active sorbent and vacuum operations from barges to be deployed to protect the remaining gaps.


SIX AREAS FOR STATE PROACTIVE ACTION

  • East Grand Terre Dredging: The state is continuing to operate their own dredging/sand boom project at East Grande Terre Island by Grand Isle.
  • Protecting Marshes: In Orleans, Terrebonne and St. Bernard parishes the state is working with parish officials to establish a Marsh Fringe Barrier – a combination of plugs and berms.
  • Hesco Baskets: The National Guard has deployed two and a half miles of Hesco baskets in Fourchon. In support of Cameron Parish, 250 National Guard soldiers will be deployed to install approximately 8 miles of Hesco barrier there after getting approval from the Coast Guard.
  • Landbridges: National Guard engineers are maintaining the landbridges at Elmer’s Island and Thunder Bayou – where they have already filled five gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.
  • Tigers Dams: National Guard engineers have finished the 7.1 miles of Tiger Dams needed in Southwest Pass. In support of Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle, National Guard engineers have completed over 7.8 miles of the bottom layer barrier on the island. Of that amount, approximately 1 mile also has the top layer complete. Work continues to progress on the installation of the remaining top layer tube. On Elmer’s Island, the National Guard has placed around 2,000 feet of Tiger Dams needed to protect the low-lying areas there.
  • Freshwater Diversions: The state is currently operating all state freshwater diversions.

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