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Jun 02, 2010
Governor Jindal Stresses Importance of White House Agreement to Six Sand Boom Segments, Asks Coast Guard to Force BP to Get to Work Immediately

VENICE – During Governor Jindal’s press conference today following his trip to see the oil devastation first hand in Pass a Loutre and Southeast Pass outside of Venice, the White House announced that they would now agree to force BP to pay for the construction of all six segments of the state’s sand boom/dredging plan that were approved by the Army Corps of Engineers last week.

Governor Jindal said, “When we met with Admiral Allen yesterday, I said that the meeting was pass or fail – either the Coast Guard and the federal government needed to force BP to fund all six sand boom segments already authorized by the Corps or they would not. We are very glad that today they have decided to step up and force BP to fund this important coastal protection effort – especially as oil continues to hit our coast day after day with no end currently in sight.

“Now, we must make sure there is follow-through on this commitment. It has been nearly a week since the Coast Guard approved the first segment of our sand boom dredge plan and we still haven’t received the funds needed from BP for the state to begin dredging on Pelican Island – or had BP begin the work there themselves. We know BP has a lot of money to pay for a lot of lawyers for a long time. We don’t want to drown in a pool of lawyers and red tape. We need the federal government to hold BP accountable and ensure that doesn’t happen. We are asking the Coast Guard and the federal government today to force BP to either advance the state the funds we need to begin work on these sand boom segments or force BP to begin the work on their own. This work cannot wait.

“From the beginning of this oil spill BP has told us to wait. They told us to wait while they fixed the BOP…wait while they developed parish specific response plans…wait while they tried to get us more boom…wait while they tried the top kill…and now they are forcing us to wait to get the funds we need to begin work on even this first segment in our 24-segment plan. There is no time for waiting. We are asking the Coast Guard and the federal government to force BP to act responsibly and immediately get to work on all the six segments that have now been approved as part of our oil spill fighting efforts. We need them to either force BP to immediately give the state the funds for these projects so we can get to work or sign the contract themselves to get the work started on the first two-mile segment and then the other around 40 miles of the five other approved segments. BP is the responsible party, but the federal government must hold them responsible. Every day they make us wait for this work to begin we are set further back in our battle to protect our coast.

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimated the costs of the first segment at Pelican Island would range from $51 million to $155 million.  We have requested $44 million from BP to begin work on the first segment and we still don’t have the funds we need to begin this work or a commitment from BP to start it themselves. Now, we need funding for the other five segments the White House has agreed to force BP to fund. We know this will be a marathon for Louisiana and we cannot allow the federal government to make excuses for BP. BP is the responsible party but we need the federal government to ensure they are in fact held responsible.

“We are also continuing to ask the Coast Guard to approve our entire 24-segment sand boom plan. Our entire coast is important. Estimates show that about 100 miles of barrier islands will help protect about 4,000 miles of our shoreline.  We could have already constructed around 10 miles of this sand boom if our plan had been approved 22 days ago when we first submitted it on May 11th. According to NOAA, about 140 miles of our coastline has now been impacted by oil. Again, this is why we need to be fighting this oil 15 to 20 miles off of our coast and not up in the fragile marshland.”

State Taking Proactive Action

The Governor also highlighted an additional six areas where the state is moving ahead on their own initiatives in the fight to protect the coast. These areas include:

  • Protecting Marshes: In Plaquemines, Jefferson, Orleans and St. Bernard 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. In Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes, officials 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 there. CPRA is also working with National Guard to look for key points to fill in sand in St. Tammany and Jefferson Parishes. The National Guard also conducted a boat reconnaissance mission in Plaquemines Parish to identify approximately 14 miles of gaps in the parish coastline.
  • HESCO Baskets: The National Guard deployed two and a half miles of HESCO baskets in the Fourchon area.
  • Landbridges: National Guard engineers continue to conduct maintenance on land bridges at Elmer’s Island and Thunder Bayou, which have actively held oil back from entering interior wetlands. National Guard engineers have also filled five gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.
  • Tiger Dam: National Guard engineers have secured over 5 ½ miles of the 7.1 miles of Tiger Dam needed in Southwest Pass and they expect to finish the project by the end of the week. In support of Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle, National Guard engineers have positioned approximately three miles of Tiger Dams.  
  • 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 will complement the state’s more complete and extensive dredging/sand booming plan. On Pelican Island, the National Guard has dropped over 2,200 sandbags to date. Six of the eight gaps on Pelican Island have been completed and the National Guard is continuing work on the 7th gap on Pelican Island. The National Guard is also working on the 1st gap on Scofield Island and they have filled in more than 1,030 sandbags there to date. The state requested that BP augment these efforts with private contractors and there has not yet been a response from BP to this request. The National Guard also finished filling a 115-foot gap near Trinity Bayou.
  • Freshwater Diversions: The state is currently operating all freshwater diversions they control to flush fresh water down into the Gulf.

The state also redirected a dredge conducting restoration work on East Grand Terre – which is east of Grand Isle – to immediately begin constructing a sand berm as called for in the state’s barrier island plan. Dredging was already underway to restore the barrier island in East Grand Terre under the state’s coastal restoration program.  This will help to remove oil offshore Louisiana’s mainland before it reaches Louisiana’s intricate coastal wetlands and estuary.

Oil Impact Update

To date, DEQ has confirmed oil impact at South Pass, Pilot Bayou/Johnson Pass, Pass a L’outre/Redfish Bay, the Chandeleur Islands, Grand Isle/Elmer’s Island, Grand Terre Island, Brush Island, Lake Raccourci – light, Chenier au Tigre, Trinity Island, Fourchon Beach, Timbalier Bay, Shoreline of Lake Felicity, and Marsh Island. Clean up operations are scheduled for today on Brush Island, Grand Isle and Fourchon. In the last 24 hours, the state has received 39,140 feet of hard boom while 55,290 has been deployed.

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