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Gov. Jindal Calls on Coast Guard and BP to Scale-Up Vacuum Barge Operations across LA’s Coast

Gov. Jindal Calls on Coast Guard and BP to Scale-Up Vacuum Barge Operations across LA’s Coast

POSTED: Thursday, June 10, 2010 - 7:24am

UPDATED: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 - 4:44pm

GRAND ISLE (June 9, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal highlighted the Louisiana National Guard’s “Vacuum Barge” operations and called on the Coast Guard and BP to scale-up these efforts across the coast as another tool to fight the oil spill. The Governor traveled to East Grand Terre – near Grand Isle – to view one of the National Guard’s operations, where they have placed oil suction equipment on barges that can transport vacuum pumps into marsh areas to remove the oil. Governor Jindal emphasized the effectiveness of the operations and said these operations should be scaled up immediately across Louisiana’s coast.

Governor Jindal said, “Many times during our response to this ongoing oil spill, we have been frustrated by the slow pace of BP and the Coast Guard’s response efforts. We have been out to Pass a Loutre and East Grand Terre many times and we have still seen oil that we previously reported sitting on the beach or in the marsh. In fact, just last Thursday, we were in East Grand Terre – where we were again today – and we saw brown pelicans coated with oil. Thankfully, our department of Wildlife and Fisheries moved quickly to pick up the birds stuck in the oil out there and we had the Coast Guard report the oil impact, but much of that oil remained sitting on the beach when we returned Monday.

“Just like we did when we made our own booming plans and moved forward to do the work ourselves on sand booming segments, we took matters into our own hands again and recently asked that the Coast Guard approve a prototype of what we have called a Vacuum Barge to begin to suck up this oil ourselves.

“At the Delta Marina in Buras, the National Guard constructed the first prototype vacuum barge late last week, using military float bridge assets in order to transport oil suction equipment. This unique application of military float bridge assets was a success in its first application, as it was able to suck oil out of intricate areas along our fragmented coast.

“Over the last 72 hours, the National Guard constructed two additional vacuum barges using military and commercial equipment. These vacuum barges are now operating around Grand Isle, Elmer’s Island and Grand Terre. More than 4,500 gallons of oil have been removed from these areas over the last 48 hours.

“These barges are one more tool to fight this oil before it gets to our coast. The prototypes work and we are asking the Coast Guard and BP to scale up these efforts so we have dozens of these barges across our coast. This is Louisiana ingenuity and it’s another example of us not waiting for others to come up with a plan to protect our coast.”

Today, the Coast Guard approved the use of three additional vacuum barges. Two of the three barges will be located in Plaquemines Parish and Port Fourchon respectively.

DREDGING UPDATE

Governor Jindal said, “Last week, we started moving forward on our own to begin work on the six approved segment 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 were certainly glad to hear BP’s Bob Dudley announcement on Monday that the company was immediately wiring $60 million to the state to begin this critical work to protect our coast and they were committed to funding the full $360 million estimated cost of these six sand boom segments.

“As of today, five hopper dredges and one cutterhead dredge have been contracted to begin work on these segments. Shaw and Bean are also working to identify additional dredges that can be used in the construction of these sand booms so we can get the work done as quickly as possible.

“Currently, the needed pipeline to begin work on sections E4 and W9/W10 – which represents the Northern Chandeleurs and Pelican and Scofield islands – is in transit for deployment.”

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 Mayor David 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.

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.

SEVEN AREAS FOR STATE PROACTIVE ACTION

1.  East Grand Terre Dredging: The state is continuing to operate their own dredging/sand boom project at East Grande Terre Island near Grand Isle.

2.  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.

3.  Hesco Baskets: The National Guard has deployed two and a half miles of Hesco baskets in Fourchon.

4.  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.

5.  Tigers Dams: National Guard engineers have finished the 7.1 miles of Tiger Dam needed in Southwest Pass. In support of Jefferson Parish and Grand Isle, National Guard engineers have positioned approximately 7 ¾ miles of double layer barrier. On Elmer’s Island, the National Guard has placed around 1,000 feet out of the 2,000 feet of Tiger Dams needed to protect the low-lying areas there.

6.  Sand-Fill Operations: CPRA and the National Guard have identified approximately 40 total locations where gaps in barrier islands can be filled with sand. On Pelican Island, the National Guard has dropped over 3,300 sandbags to date – completing all 8 of the 8 gaps there. They are also working on the 1st gap on Scofield Island and have filled in more than 1,980 sandbags to date. This should be finished today, as five helicopters are working to complete the project there.

7.  Freshwater Diversions: The state is currently operating all state freshwater diversions.

PHOTO -  Oil Impacts from Jindal Tour on June 7, 2010.  Governor Bobby Jindal today took BP Managing Director Bob Dudley for a boat tour to view oil impact along the coast.  Photos courtesy of Governor Jindal’s Office.