Barges being positioned to block off Barataria Bay

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by Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on June 18, 2010 at 5:36 PM

BARATARIA, La. - It’s a line of defense that officials in Jefferson Parish are counting on -- as more oil pushes into Barataria Bay.

Friday, crews stacked a series of barges across Pass Abel.

"The barges are positioned in Grand Isle and as the Coast Guard gives approval to put them in place, then we move them out here," said JP Councilman Chris Roberts.

The goal is to allow oil to gather along this new barrier, and then remove it from the water. As the oil comes in, the barge blocks it.

As crude builds up, crews will vacuum it into tanks on top of each barge.

It's a strategy Roberts and others have been fighting for -- and they're relieved it's finally happening.

A few weeks earlier they say, would've been much better.

"It would've helped quite a bit, and it's very frustrating that it took well over a month for us to get this project in motion," Roberts said. "It's unfortunate because now we're looking at several areas in northern Barataria that have since been inundated with oil, and a lot of marshland and wildlife have been impacted."

But the wheels are turning. Officials say they've gotten approval to block two passesand if all goes as planned, they hope to have all five targeted passes blocked within a week.

Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner says they're also trying to get permits to build a series of rock jetties.

"With the dispersants putting oil under the surface, and then I'm worried about when you get a little disturbance of heavy winds and you have to remove the barges.

Then you have nothing in the pass,” Kerner said.“That's why it's so important that we get that rock permit and start with those rocks as soon as possible."

For JP Council Chair John Young, it's a move in the right direction -- something he hopes continues. "We need a streamlined chain of command where it doesn't take so long to make a decision. I mean, every day, every hour, in fact, every minute counts," Young said.

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