GRAND ISLE, La. - Early Friday morning, hundreds of workers showed up to clean the beach at Grand Isle.
Now some, including two Jefferson Parish councilmembers, accuse BP of staging the work in advance of President Obama's visit. It's a charge BP denies.
Grand Isle resident Jerry LaFont said that’s basically what he was told by one of the crew’s supervisors.
"I went and talked to the guy,” LaFont said.“(The supervisor) said, ‘No they’re just here for the day. They just came for the president.’"
Officials have repeatedly criticized BP in recent days over the amount of people working on the cleanup effort.
JP Councilman Chris Roberts called Friday's mobilization of workers, a dog and pony show.
"It's just a total shame that they would stoop to that level to try and lead people to believe that they have that many assets on the ground, because it's simply not true," Roberts said.
BP officials responded by saying the influx of workers was all part of their plan.
"These workers were not staged for the president," said BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles.
It’s astatement echoed by Donald Nalty, who works with Environmental Safety & Health, Inc., the contractor who hired the workers.
"We've had 250 people in Grand Isle for the past couple of weeks, and being that we're starting to see some more oil come in, we're thinking ahead, actually developing a western movement plan right now, which entails more people," Nalty said.
Nalty says more than 600 people are now assigned to the Grand Isle cleanup effort.
But Councilman Roberts says emergency response personneltalked to some workers, who said they were hired Thursday, then told to report for cleanup Friday morning.
Nalty denied that.
"They've at least gotta go through a 24 or 40 hour training in order to be out there on the beach. I don't buy it,” he said.
Either way, Roberts is suspicious of the timing.
"When you have people here that are struggling, and then you put on a show because you know the President of the United States is in town, it's just totally unacceptable,” he said.“It's shameful. It in no way compares to the efforts they've had the last few weeks, and I'd like to know who made the decision to do this and why.