JP officials on lookout for oil brought in by tropical weather


by Maya Rodriguez / Eyewitness News

Posted on August 11, 2010 at 6:17 PM

GRAND ISLE, La.-- Wet weather on Wednesday afternoon kept most people away from Grand Isle's beach: four sections of it have reopened after closing because of the oil spill.

Yet, even with tropical weather out in the Gulf, locals looked at it as little more than a hiccup.

"It's going to be something small. A little wind and a lot of rain -- and we can always use some rain right now," said Josie Cheramie, with Grand Isle's Tourism Office. "It's been dusty and dry and hot."

Jefferson Parish officials, though, are still keeping an eye on the coming storms.

"This is one more drill in what has been a very long year," said Jefferson Parish Emergency Management Director Deano Bonano.

Barges have been pulled out of the passes leading into Barataria Bay and sensitive oil spill cleanup equipment is now on higher ground. Boats involved in the oil spill cleanup have also moved into safe harbor. This comes as officials prepare to be on the lookout for any potential oil that higher-than-normal waves and tides might bring in.

"It is a concern," Bonano said. "Certainly it may stir up any oil that settled on the bottom somewhere and bring it onshore."

Even if the effects of the tropical weather end up being minor, once it clears up, assessment teams plan to head out across Grand Isle's beach to see if any oil washed up onshore.

"A SCAT team -- Shoreline Clean-up Assessment Team -- they will go out after the storm and look at the beaches, the marshes and determine if any oil washed up and how to deal with that oil: if it's tar balls, if it's the peanut butter type mats, how do we handle that?" Bonano said.

It is a scenario people here would rather not see happen. More oil is the last thing they'd want to see rolling in with the tide.

"Hopefully it won't do that, since we do have four zones that are now open and everybody can come out and play on the beach and go fishing," Cheramie said.

First, though, the tropical weather will need to pass by and move on, before people on the island can do the same.