JP officials: Barge plan working

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by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on June 25, 2010 at 6:18 PM

GRAND ISLE, La. - Many of the grass covered islands in places like Bay Jimmy and Bay Baptiste in the Barataria Basin between Grand Isle and Lower Lafitte now have a brown rings around them. Those rings are BP oil.

The sludge entered the marsh through one of five waterways known as passes, leading from the gulf into the back bays.

Friday, Jefferson Parish leaders got a bird's eye view of the dozens of barges just positioned in the 7000 foot mouth of Pass Abel.

They also walked on the barges where skimmers and vacuums are already collecting oil off the side of the vessels.

"This oil here that we're seeing now, had these barges not been here would be rolling right into our estuaries," said JP Councilman Chris Roberts. "It gets sucked up here. It prevents it from going into Barataria Bay which certainly some of our fragile marshlands are just north of here."

Roberts says crews are now in the process of installing pipe boom between the barges and the banks of the pass.

"We have a little bit of a problem because there's shallow water that's around on each side, so therefore we're going to have to stop placing barges at this particular site," said Roberts.

Sheriff Newell Normand says the complexion of the oil spill keeps evolving and it's important to adapt to the changes.

"A lot of skimming," said Normand. "We saw a lot of airboats in, a lot of deployment of new boom in new areas through the marsh down there. We saw some sheen. Not quite as much as we would have seen maybe two or three weeks ago."

Barges are now being floated out to Four Bayous Pass.

Councilman-At-Large Tom Capella hopes the Coast Guard will soon approve the use of barges in all 5 passes leading into Barataria Bay.

"It works," said Capella. "It's not perfect, but it keeps the oil out of the marshes which is what we want to do. That way we don't have to clean the marshes. We can protect the wildlife, pick it up in the open sea and we're very happy the way that happened today."

The Army Corps of Engineers is expected to decide whether the parish can use rock dikes to supplement the barges early next week.
 
 

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