Cleaning oil off beaches a daily grind in Grand Isle

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by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on May 25, 2010 at 4:56 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 25 at 5:30 PM

GRAND ISLE, La. - Along the oil strewn beach of Grand Isle, Haz-Mat crews spent Tuesday loading up bags upon bags of oiled sand. It is now a daily effort to clean up the mess continually washing ashore there.
 
"They've got beach clean up crews from one end of the island to the other, so they are getting up the oil that we saw come in over the weekend," said Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Deano Bonano.
 
Cleaning up the beach is a relatively simple process, compared with what is happening out on the water, in the back bays near Grand Isle. Oil is constantly moving into Barataria Bay, through several major passes - with another ribbon of offshore oil expected to move in Tuesday evening. The plan now is to use boom to narrow the passes, to try and gain control of the oil that is flowing in.
 
 "The narrower we can get those passes, the more effective those skimming boats will be because there's less opportunity for the oil to get around," Bonano said.
 
However, to do that, the parish says it needs more resources and they are counting on BP to make that happen.
 
"Every day, we're trying to work with BP to ramp up the amount of resources here,” Bonano said. “We need to see more skimmers brought in. You know, the more skimmers and boats that we have available to use, the more we can do with the oil."
 
"All my life we've been exposed to oil, but nothing like this. This could be the most devastating thing I've ever seen," said Bob Sevin, a longtime Grand Isle resident and one of the organizers of the Speckled Trout Fishing Rodeo.
 
The annual fishing rodeo is usually held on Memorial Day weekend and raises money for more than a dozen local charities.
 
"The Speckled Trout Rodeo is the first rodeo out the box for Grand Isle,” Sevin said. "This year, it looks like we're not going to have the fishing part of it. How can you have the fishing rodeo without the fishing part?"
 
Even without fishing, Sevin said the fishing rodeo will go on anyway as a chance for islanders and their supporters to band together for a good time, during difficult times.
 
"We're looking to have a good time, despite what we're facing,” he said. “When we think about this island, we can rise to the occasion and we're going to rise to the occasion."
 
Meanwhile, on Barataria Bay, the parish installed what they call a “Swinging Gate” of boom, which opens and closes to allow boats to pass. The parish is now working with the Coast Guard to set up a decontamination station to clean oil off any boats there.
 

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