May 11, 2010
CHAUVIN – Today, Governor Bobby Jindal, State Senator Norby Chabert, State Representative Gordy Dove, Terrebonne Parish President Michel Claudet and other Terrebonne Parish officials held a press conference following their flyover of coastal protection efforts in Terrebonne Parish to stress the need for more hard boom in the parish and those areas west of the Mississippi River, as the oil continues to move in that direction.
Governor Jindal said, “We continue to stress to the Coast Guard and BP that we need more hard boom in Terrebonne Parish and also Lafourche and St. Mary Parishes. These areas west of the river are incredibly important to protect, especially because they continue to lack the resources they need to guard their coast even as the weather projections show that the oil slick will continue to move westward over the next several days.
“Terrebonne Parish estimates they need about 180,000 feet of hard boom and 90,000 feet of this has already been approved by the Coast Guard to distribute. On our flyover today we saw where they have already boomed Wine Island and we saw boats on the way to begin booming Raccoon Island.
“The bottom line here is that we need more booming resources in these areas west of the river. By the time oil gets into our marshes it is too late. We need the Coast Guard and BP to act now to get ahead of the forecast and make sure our parishes west of the river have the tools they need to keep the oil out of our fragile wetlands.”
DREDGING AND SANDBAGGING EFFORTS
Governor Jindal also stressed today that the state is not waiting for the Coast Guard and BP to take action and send more boom. Governor Jindal said, “We continue to lean forward and not wait on resources from the Coast Guard and BP. One of the alternative options we are working on today is getting the Coast Guard to approve sandbagging efforts for cuts in Pipeline Canal, Timbalier Island and Company Canal.
“In Lafourche, we have identified about 20 gaps in the Caminada Island area where the National Guard could fill sand using dump trucks, just like they are currently doing in Elmer’s Island on Grand Isle. This would protect the interior wetland areas in Lafourche from further intrusion of oil and salt water. In fact, many of these gaps were created by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike. We are submitting these plans to the Coast Guard today.
“Plans to dredge and build up barrier islands were discussed yesterday with Plaquemines Parish officials, state officials, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard. The Corps indicated that they would be willing to release dredges from their contracts, which would allow them to work on the dredging plan. We are asking the Corps to work with us on emergency permits to allow the work there to begin quickly and once approved, we could expect to see land built within about ten days.
“Additionally, we have resubmitted our request to use Hesco baskets, which is a steel basket that would be filled with sand and sorbent materials to protect our shorelines from contamination. This plan was originally rejected by the Coast Guard but we have refined it and are proposing to use these baskets in parts of Grand Isle and also at Queen Bees Island as an alternative to boudin bags.
NATIONAL GUARD UPDATE
Governor Jindal also gave an update on the National Guard’s efforts in the fight to protect the Louisiana coast, specifically highlighting the three projects currently in progress – the Elmer’s Island sand bridge, the Port Fourchon sandbag drop, and the Tiger Dam construction at Southwest Pass.
Elmer’s Island at Grand Isle Update: About 46 engineers from the 922nd Horizontal Engineer Company are working to close the 700-foot gap at Elmer’s Island. These are 24-hour operations and they are now 90 percent complete and expect to be finished Wednesday.
Port Fourchon Sandbag Drop Operations Update: About 30 engineers from the 928th Engineer Company are filling five total gaps in the vicinity of Thunder Bayou in Port Fourchon. Operations started yesterday and they completed 75 percent of the work to close the first gap of the five – a 150-foot gap near Thunder Bayou. They expect to finish this first gap today and begin work on the next gap, which is also 150-feet wide. This sandbag drop operation uses about two 2,000-pound sandbags dropped from UH-60 helicopters and they expect to also complete this mission by Wednesday.
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. They are beginning these efforts today and staging in Venice.