JP seeking permission to block oil with rock jetties

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by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on June 23, 2010 at 6:03 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 23 at 6:26 PM

The thick black oil now in the Barataria marshes south of New Orleans, entered the estuary through one of five waterways know as passes, which head inland from the Louisiana gulf coast.

Dozens of barges are now positioned across the 7000-foot wide entrance to Pass Abel.

Barges are also on their way to Four Bayous Pass.

The vessels are angled to help steer the oil into shallow waters where it can be recovered by skimmers.

"What we did was, we seen the five passes, which ones were the worst, where the oil was coming in daily, this pass and Four Bayous, said Grand Isle Mayor David Camardelle on a recent tour of the barge blockade with a group of local lawmakers. "We asked the president to approve five passes."

Wednesday, Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts, Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner and other local leaders met with the Army Corps of Engineers in New Orleans.

They want permission to supplement the barges with a series of rock dikes.  

They say the rocks would stop oil below the surface of the water.

"We're very concerned about what the dispersant has done to some of the oil that's in the lower water channels and water tables that's getting in under the barges and under the boom," said Roberts. 

The Corps has been reluctant to grant permits for the project.

The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program opposes the plan.

The group sent a letter to the Army Corps stating that "the rocks dikes would facilitate, not lessen, movement of oil from offshore into the internal estuaries."

And that the increased flow of water into the Barataria Basin, "may cause severe erosion to occur along the back barrier marshes."

"The models that we looked at today, showed very little impact along the shoreline, meaning any erosion that the additional flow would cause," said Roberts.

Jefferson Parish is also considering another plan using a line of metal sheet-piles to keep oil out of the bay. 

"Parish President Theriot is actually in Alabama today, looking at that to try and determine if that's a possibility here," said Roberts.

In the meantime, Councilman Roberts says BP has already secured rocks for the proposed jetties.

While Jefferson Parish leaders would like to get the rocks installed in the water by this weekend, in reality they admit, unless the  Army Corps of Engineers gives its permission, BP probably won't release the material.

Councilman Roberts says the Corps promised to have an answer on the rock jetties plan on Saturday.

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