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May 13, 2010
Governor Jindal Travels to St. Mary Parish, Joins Officials for Flyover and On-The-Ground Assessment of Coastal Protection Plan

MORGAN CITY – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal traveled to Morgan City in St. Mary Parish where he joined St. Mary Parish President Paul Naquin and other local officials for a flyover of the coast and an on-the-ground assessment of the parish’s protection plan to mitigate the impact of the oil. The Governor continued to stress the need for more containment boom in areas west of the Mississippi River where the oil slick is moving.

Governor Jindal said, “The history of much of our commercial fishing, recreational fishing, and many other industries associated with our coastal resources are based right here in St. Mary Parish. The Port of West St. Mary continues to grow its seafood, fabrication and other maritime-related businesses. There is no doubt that this oil spill threatens this incredible economic activity.

“The detailed booming plan for all of coastal Louisiana that we submitted a couple weeks ago outlines five booming closure points for St. Mary Parish. The estimated hard boom needed to protect this area would be around 15,386 feet. We also worked with the parish and emergency officials to identify secondary booming areas, which would be needed under a worst-case scenario plan. These secondary protection measures would likely need another 3,864 feet of hard boom.

“Hard boom arrived in St. Mary Parish last night and the boom being staged this morning so it is ready to deploy. We are continuing to ask the Coast Guard and BP to send more boom to St. Mary Parish and our other parishes west of the river, as projections show the oil continuing to move to the west in the coming days. BP is also setting up a 90-foot supply barge to operate booming operations off of Shell Keys Wildlife Refuge.

“Just two days ago, we flew over Whiskey Island and Raccoon Island in western Terrebonne Parish. Again, it is so important to prevent any oil impact because our Louisiana coast is a fragile ecosystem that supports all kinds of vegetation and marine life that could potentially be destroyed by even the temporary presence of oil. The Louisiana coast is not like a united beach that is easy to clean up. It is a fragmented, complicated system of marshes that support our Louisiana way of life and that is why we are continuing to fight to protect it.”

COASTAL PROTECTION TACTICS

Governor Jindal said, “In an effort to address the boom shortage, we continue to lean forward and develop many innovative strategies to protect our fisheries, communities and ecosystem. We are not just waiting for more hard boom, instead, we are moving forward on our own to protect our coast.”

Some alternative to boom include: Tiger Dams in Plaquemines Parish, filling in sand in Elmer’s Island and sandbag drops in Port Fourchon. An update on these activities is below:

  • Elmer’s Island at Grande Isle: About 46 engineers from the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company completed their mission to close the 785-foot gap at Elmer’s Island. These were 24-hour operations that concluded yesterday.
  • Port Fourchon Sandbag Drop Operations: About 30 engineers from the 928th Engineer Company are filling five total gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon.  Operations started Tuesday and yesterday they completed their work to close the first 150-foot gap near Thunder Bayou. They also closed a 15-foot gap there about three miles west of the large one. Today, the National Guard is beginning work on a 25-foot gap further west on the island. These sandbag drop operation use about two 2,000-pound sandbags dropped from Blackhawk helicopters.
  • Tiger Dam Project at Southwest Pass: Around 42 engineers from the 528th Engineer Battalion are working to secure 7.1 miles in Southwest Pass with tiger dams. The National Guard began construction yesterday by assembling and inflating a 500-foot test section of the dam. Today, work is being done on the northern point of the project and crews will focus on laying around 3.5 miles of Tiger Dam in preparation for assembly and inflation.

The Governor said the state is also moving forward on a Dutch dredge plan to build “sand booms” along the alignment of the state’s historic barrier islands in  the Chandeleur Islands, Barataria Bay and Timbalier Bay. The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) filed for an emergency permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with this Dutch plan. CPRA officials also met with federal officials yesterday to urge their support of the Corps granting this emergency permit so work can quickly begin. Once dredging begins, land or “sand booms” could be expected to be seen in around ten days.

Governor Jindal said, “Yesterday, National Guard representatives and CPRA engineers flew – and reviewed by boat – the coastline to confirm coordinates and to mark sights for airdrops and filling gaps with heavy equipment. We have identified approximately 40 total locations where gaps could be filled. In fact, this afternoon the National Guard expects to begin filling gaps on Pelican Island with sandbag drops.

“We are already running diversions from Caernarvon, Ostrica and many others to flush freshwater into our wetlands – preventing oil from getting into our coastal wetlands. Three of the four gates on Bayou Lamoque were also opened to divert water to the west bank of Plaquemines Parish. We have also proposed the use of Hesco baskets and are awaiting Coast Guard approval. We proposed the use of boudin bags as well.”

OIL IMPACT

Governor Jindal said, “DEQ reports as of this morning confirmed oil impact at Whiskey and Raccoon Islands in Terrebonne Parish – which further stresses the importance of our western coastal parishes getting the resources they need to be proactive and boom their coast to help protect their shoreline.

“We also have confirmed reports of sheen in Pass A Loutre, the western tip of Whiskey Island, around the Chandeleur Islands, and Timbalier Bay from Little Pass.

“Clean up operations are continuing today in areas where oil has made shoreline impact, specifically in the Chandeleur Islands, Whiskey Island, Raccoon Island and South Pass.

“LDWF also confirmed tar balls at South Pass in Plaquemines Parish yesterday, which demonstrates how some of this oil is sinking below the boom and still washing to shore – which again threatens our fragile coastal ecosystem.”

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