Painstakingly slow process to get oil out of Rigolets

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by Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief

wwltv.com

Posted on July 9, 2010 at 7:11 PM

SLIDELL, La. - Vessels of opportunity lined the southern shore of the Rigolets Friday, and those on board were cleaning oiled marsh grass by hand.

According to St. Tammany Parish leaders, roughly 20 boats from the Vessels of Opportunity Program joined the fight against the oil in the Rigolets area.

One crew, led by St. Tammany crabber Brett Johnson used a homemade device of oil absorbent pads wrapped around nets. 

"We just modified that when we got here," Johnson said while working in the Rigolets Marsh.  "We took the dip net, we're taping it to it, and using it like a mop to mop at the grass."

Johnson said his crew found sheen, not tar balls.

"It's mostly a sheen on the grass," Johnson said. 

Another group from Slidell used the oil absorbent pads, which workers call "diapers" to wipe individual blades of marsh grass clean.

When asked if it was possible to clean the marsh grass, St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis responded, "Yes, certainly, it's just going to be a matter of time.  It's going to be labor intensive in those spots."

Davis said he believes as the tides began moving water out of the Lake Pontchartrain area, the oil was dropped into the marshes lining the Rigolets, in patches.

"Basically, we just take the oil pads and wipe them down," BP contracted worker Zachary Johnson said.  "We did a ten by ten foot patch in like three hours."  When they were done, Johnson said, "It was green.  It looked pretty."
     
At the end of the Treasure Isle subdivision in St. Tammany Parish, where we first saw oil in Lake Pontchartrain Monday, small melting tar balls left behind dot the rocky shoreline.
     
The water, however, looks cleans, with no evidence of tar balls.

Kevin Davis said, he believes the oil now being cleaned in the marshes along the Rigolets is the last of the first wave of oil to reach the Lake.
 

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