Jindal questions spill response; Coast Guard official takes blame

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by Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News

wwltv.com

Posted on May 21, 2010 at 6:03 PM

CHAUVIN, La. - After a helicopter tour with Coast Guard officials over miles of Terrebonne Parish coastline, Gov. Bobby Jindal called on BP and the federal government to act with more urgency.
 
"The day we feared is upon us. The heavy oil has made landfall,” Jindal said.“We've got to do everything we can to fight this oil away from our wetlands -- keep it away from this fragile coast."
 
His comments filled with frustration, Jindal described a lack of action in keeping the oil out.
 
He says Terrebonne needs more boom, and points out, crews have only deployed half of the 76,000 feet of boom the parish does have.
 
"It shouldn't be up to BP to decide when the boom gets deployed, or when the skimmers get deployed. So, one of the reasons we brought the Coast Guard with us today, was to see for themselves -- the boom's not out there,” Jindal said.“The oil's coming in. It doesn't do any us any good to have skimmers sitting in trailers and boom sitting on docks. It needs to be deployed now."
 
The oil mass continues moving west, and as the toxic sludge begins to make landfall in Terrebonne, Capt. Edwin Stanton, who heads up the Coast Guard's response, is taking blame.
 
"The governor is right. It's too slow, and if it's anybody's fault, it's mine, for not pushing (BP) hard enough perhaps,” Stanton said.“We did have a problem with getting boom down here to begin with, but there seems to be boom that is in the staging areas that needs to be put out."
 
Then, in an exchange with a reporter, he went further.
 
Stanton: "It’s my job to direct this response in Louisiana.”
 
Reporter: “Why didn’t you do it?”
 
Stanton: “Well, the why -- is that really important?”
 
Reporter: “Yes sir, we live here.”
 
Stanton: “Well, I guess I'm just slow and dumb."
 
Friday's flyover revealed some positives, however.
 
Jindal says the earthen barriers built in recent days as a stop-gap measure are working, and again, he called on the Army Corps to approve the state's request to begin dredging and building new barrier islands.
 
"Every day's delay is another day of more oil coming into our wetlands, coming into our interior marshes," Jindal said.
 
Stanton agreed.
 
"It's undeniable, that an earthen berm is a heck of a lot more effective at keeping oil out of these inlets than a containment or deflection boom,” he said.“It's undeniable."
 
While officials wait for an answer from the Army Corps, the state took action on its own Friday.
 
State officials redirected a contractor who was conducting restoration work on East Grand Terre – which is east of Grand Isle – to immediately begin constructing a sand berm, as called for in Louisiana's barrier island plan.

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