Gov. Jindal: LA National Guard to Hold Coast Guard Accountable on Skimming Operations

Gov. Jindal: LA National Guard to Hold Coast Guard Accountable on Skimming Operations

POSTED: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 4:52pm

UPDATED: Friday, July 2, 2010 - 4:52pm

VENICE (July 2, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser viewed heavy oil impact off the Plaquemines Parish coast in Pass a Loutre and Red Fish Bay. As a result of winds from Hurricane Alex, containment boom was scattered across the marshes along with heavy oil – and Governor Jindal cited the damage as another reason for the need to quickly implement more effective containment efforts, including sand-berms as well as the rocks and barges plan in Grand Isle.

After viewing the oil impact, Governor Jindal held a press conference in Venice – where he repeated his call for more urgency from the federal government, and he announced that the Louisiana National Guard is beginning a mission today to support Coast Guard efforts to more quickly and more effectively deploy skimmers in order to fight the oil off the coast before it further impacts the coastline. Citing two examples from this week alone, the Governor said the Coast Guard’s skimming operations have been hit or miss, and the National Guard will help provide real-time information and hold the Coast Guard accountable.

Governor Jindal said, “The Louisiana National Guard has been working with the Coast Guard to provide better real-time information about skimming operations and oil collections across the coast. Today, we’re announcing that LA National Guard Branch Operations Teams will be in place today to assist Coast Guard Branch Directors to help provide reporting of skimmer operations and on the amount of oil being collected. They will be located in Terrebonne, Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and St. Tammany Parishes.

“Our National Guard will help provide more situational awareness of containment and clean-up efforts on the coast. This is similar to the National Guard’s work with the Coast Guard to monitor booming operations.

“The National Guard’s efforts will enable us to more quickly and more effectively deploy skimmers – and hold the Coast Guard accountable. Currently, it’s a hit or miss operation and twice just this week we’ve been out to view oil impact and have not seen a single skimmer. On Monday we flew over a reportedly 12-mile slick, but not one skimmer was out there collecting oil. That’s absurd.

“The LA National Guard will be our eyes and ears on the ground so we know how many skimmers are being operated, how much oil is being collected so that we have real-time information in this war to protect our coast.”

Additionally, the Governor announced that the Louisiana National Guard is placing four teams today to support Coast Guard Search and Response (SARES) land response efforts in St. Bernard, Lafourche, Jefferson, and Terrebonne parishes. Teams will also be located in Orleans and St. Tammany, Plaquemines and St. Mary and Iberia parishes.

DREDGING – SAND BERM UPDATE
Governor Jindal said, “Our cutterhead dredge, the CALIFORNIA, is back dredging today on the North Chandeleur Islands. To date, the CALIFORNIA has dredged over 600,000 cubic yards of material for our berm on the northern Chandeleur Islands. On the west side of the river, 375,000 cubic yards of material has been moved to date.

“The CALIFORNIA was shut down for about a week because the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made us move the dredge. The Corps of Engineers refuses to beneficially use the millions of cubic yards of material they dredge annually from our rivers and navigation channels – and this was one of the federal agencies that shut us down.

“Had the feds not shut this dredge down, we could have built thousands of feet of additional sand berm to help block more oil from getting into our marshes. Shutting down our dredge is just another example of why we need more urgency from the federal response. We need them to put the red tape aside. We need them to treat this oil spill like a war. You don’t wait weeks and weeks for studies and federal permits in the middle of a war. You do what you need to do as quickly as possible to protect your land and your people.

“That is what we are doing on the front lines here every day in Louisiana and we need the federal government to join us. We absolutely will not be held back by this. We will not let our people and our land suffer while we wait on the federal government to realize that we need more resources and effort put into this response.”

ROCKS/BARGES UPDATE
Governor Jindal said, “Jefferson and Plaquemines Parish together with the towns of Grand Isle and Lafitte have been pushing for weeks to get approval to place rocks in western Barataria Bay passes. Their plan calls for narrowing the passes by up to 70 percent with rocks, rigid pipe boom or other measures then placing barges with vacuum trucks and sorbent operations in the remaining gaps. This plan will help us fight the oil before it gets into our interior marshes.

“We continue to wait for federal approval for this work and urge the Army Corps of Engineers to approve these oil removal actions immediately. Weeks ago, the President came here and said we would get a call within hours. To date, we still do not have the federal approval we need. This is a war and we need the federal government in this war to win it. I want to be clear – losing this battle is not an option for Louisiana. We will win this war – and we will do it with them or without them.

“On Monday, we flew about three miles offshore Grand Isle and Grand Terre islands. There was oil as far as you could see. Yesterday, we boated in Barataria Bay, and once again, oil covered these waters. Unfortunately, we did not see any skimmers on Monday or yesterday clearing this oil.

“The Coast Guard allowed barges to be redeployed to Pass Abel and we are posting barges in Four Bayou Pass as well. The reality is that sand berms and gap closures will help protect our coast 24 hours a day in rain or shine. We need the federal government to recognize the vulnerability that continues to exist and to work with us rather than obstruct us from protecting our citizens.”

UPDATE – PROACTIVE STATE ACTIONS

  • In Lafourche Parish, permit approval was granted to emplace six miles of Tiger Dam. The Louisiana National Guard is proceeding with getting material and resources on site and they will conduct 24 hour operations at the site.
  • At Pelican and Scofield Islands, the Louisiana National Guard continues to work on a total of 14 gaps. The eight gaps on Pelican Island are complete and a total of 3,300 sandbags were dropped there. LANG continues surging helicopter operations on Scofield Island and four of the six gaps are complete there – with approximately 12,180 sandbags emplaced on Scofield Island to date; and about 31 million pounds has been filled into these gaps in total.
  • In Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana National Guardsmen are currently reinforcing the back levee at 15 sites. Work is completed at two sites and ongoing at site #9 – which is now 57 percent complete and site #7 – which is now 34 percent complete. Previously, Guardsmen completed emplacing small sandbags in six locations in the same vicinity. All six sites were completed with over 4,900 sandbags.
  • As a result of high winds, wave action, and beach erosion primarily at Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and Cameron Parish, the Louisiana National Guard is repairing and reinforcing damage to containment systems.

IMAGE SOURCE - VENICE, La. - UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters belonging to the 1/244th Assault Helicopter Battalion, State Aviation Command, Louisiana Army National Guard, in Hammond, La, transport Louisiana Guardsmen to work sites critical to oil spill mitigation efforts along Louisiana's shoreline, May 20, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Toby M. Valadie, Louisiana National Guard State Public Affairs Office/Released)

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