NEW ORLEANS (July 15, 2010) - Today, Governor Bobby Jindal landed on the sand berm at the Chandeleur Islands to highlight the significant construction progress being made and to show that the sand berms are working effectively to block oil from impacting Louisiana’s fragile wetlands.
Governor Jindal said, “To date – Louisiana has more than 425 miles of oiled shoreline. The sand berms we are working to create – including the one in the Chandeleur Islands – are important defense mechanisms to protect our interior wetlands from oil impact.
“Currently, there are 6 hopper dredges, 2 cutter head dredges, and 6 Scows involved in operations. The 4 hoppers continue to deposit material on the Western side of the Mississippi River into the rehandling area.
“The cutter head Ellefsen began removing material from the Pass a Loutre borrow area at the mouth of the Mississippi River earlier this week. The material is being loaded onto Scows – large flat-bottomed barges, which are being pushed by tugs to the western rehandling area. The establishment of pipeline extending from this rehandling area to the sand berm construction site is almost complete. It is anticipated that within the week a cutter head dredge will begin pumping from the rehandling area onto the western segments.
“On the Eastern side of the river, two hopper dredges are now depositing material into the handling area for the southern section of segment of the sand berm at the Chandeleur Islands. The cutter head California continues to remove sand from Hewes Point Borrow area and deposit on the Northern end of the sand berm at the Chandeleur Islands. We are also backfilling the 600,000 cubic yards of sediment borrowed from the first site on the east side. The Army Corps of Engineer gave us until mid-August to refill this area and we are dedicating 30 percent of our pumping time to the backfill.
“To date, more than 1.8 million cubic yards of material have been dredged, with 1 million on the East and 800 thousand on the West. A total of 130,000 cubic yards of material is dredged each day.
“The sand berm at the Chandeleur Islands is an impressive structure. We will see land creation rates increase dramatically on the west side of the river once the operations shift there from moving materials to create berm. Under our implementation plan, the project will continue to ramp up to include over 150 vessels working concurrently on multiple segments. Each segment will be treated as a separate project with dredges and other equipment working simultaneously.
“We expect ten dredges to be working on these projects, making this one of the largest and most intense dredging projects in our nation's history. Once completed, the roughly 40 miles of sand berms will benefit and protect 2,000 to 3,000 miles of tidal shoreline – keeping our battle against this oil well away from our interior marshes and wetlands.
“The elevated portions of the project have provided protection with the help of the Louisiana National Guard. Over 500 pounds of oily debris was collected off of the berm at the Chandeleur Islands during one day last week and tar balls are constantly washing up, proving that sand berms are an effective protection measure against oil. In fact, beach fronts and sand berms are utilized by the Coast Guard and Oil Spill Response Contractors as best practices for natural collection to facilitate removal. Both the Coast Guard and BP contractors recommend that oil be allowed to collect along the shore for removal as a more effective measure than a booming defense strategy.”
The Governor also noted that along East Grand Terre, three miles of sand berm have already been built, with over two million cubic yards of dredged material. Governor Jindal said the project was instrumental in preventing oiling of interior wetlands.
RECREATIONAL FISHING OPENED
Yesterday, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) Secretary Robert Barham and the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission (LWFC) announced significant openings to recreational fishing. With this action, approximately 86 percent of recreational fishing in Louisiana was opened immediately yesterday – July 14. The openings will allow recreational anglers, including recreational shrimping, crabbing and fishing, to resume.
Governor Jindal said, “We are pleased by the action – and in fact I plan to go down to Grand Isle tomorrow to see some of the recreational fishermen out there. Of course, we continue to caution all fishermen to exercise caution while fishing in areas closed to commercial fishing.”
This opening includes licensed charter boat guides and bait fishermen or dealers who harvest for and sell to recreational fishermen exclusively. It is important to point out that recreational fishing is allowed subject to continual testing and monitoring. Although recreational fishing will be allowed in portions of the previously closed fishing areas, certain delineated areas, including heavily oiled areas, areas associated with boom and areas of active cleanup continue to be closed to recreational fishing. Recreational fishermen are advised to avoid areas where oil is observed and to respect oil cleanup and removal activities by steering clear of boom.
Governor Jindal added, “We would also like to see commercial fishing open as quickly and safely as possible. The FDA has oversight of commercially sold seafood and LDWF has already sent them a proposed plan to open the same areas that the commission approved for recreational fishing. In fact, LDWF has provided the FDA with input and testing samples that are awaiting the FDA labs to be reviewed. Last night, the LWFC passed a resolution urging the FDA to review the testing samples that are sitting in their labs and we support that resolution so we can open commercial fishing quickly in the areas where it is safe.”
ADDITIONAL PROACTIVE COASTAL PROTECTION
- In support of Jefferson and Lafourche Parishes, Louisiana National Guardsmen continue to reinforce two land bridges – one at Caminada Pass at Elmer’s Island and one at Thunder Bayou. National Guard engineers continue to place additional fill material and geotextile. To date, over 2,466 linear feet of reinforcement have been placed at Thunder Bayou and over 222 linear feet at Caminada Pass.
- In Lafourche Parish, the Louisiana National Guard is installing an additional 60 feet of Hesco barrier wall. This project is in addition to the 2 1/2 miles of barrier protection previously installed near Port Fourchon. The National Guard has completed construction operations to install approximately 7 ¼ miles of Hesco barrier on the shoreline of Cameron Parish. They are currently working to make additional improvements on this barrier.
- At Pelican and Scofield Islands, the National Guard completed filling a total of 14 gaps (8 at Pelican and 6 at Scofield). A total of 14,661 sandbags were dropped at Scofield. To date, a total of 6,376 sandbags have been emplaced at Pelican Island. In total, the National Guard has placed 42 million pounds of sand to fill coastal gaps.
- In Plaquemines Parish, Guardsmen are currently reinforcing the back levee at 14 sites from Myrtle Grove and La Reussite. Work is completed at 10 sites and work is ongoing on four of the sites.
AP PHOTO - Governor Jindal landed on the sand berm at the Chandeleur Islands to highlight the significant construction progress being made and to show that the sand berms are working effectively to block oil from impacting Louisiana’s fragile wetlands. Photo courtesy of Governor Jindal’s office.