NEW ORLEANS -- In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, sediment and sand across coastal Louisiana shifted to reveal tar balls and oil mats -- part of the buried remnants of the 2010 BP oil spill.
"The storm did us some favor in giving us access to something that we might not have had access to for years to come," said Capt. Samuel "Duke" Walker, incident commander with the U.S. Coast Guard.
What the storm uncovered, though, is only a faction of the estimated 1.2 million barrels of oil -- or 50 million gallons-- still unaccounted for from the spill. It is part of the reason a Senate Environment Committee hearing convened in New Orleans on Tuesday, which questioned why more isn't being done to clean up the remaining oil.
"Zero effort is being made to find that and recover that," said U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana. "A million barrels of oil is many, many times what was spilled, total, in the Exxon-Valdez incident. So, I think that's completely unacceptable."
However, the Coast Guard, as the lead agency in the clean-up, said there are environmental concerns, which have to get approval from several state agencies.
"They help set what the environmental limits are so that we can reach that balance point of recovering oil, but not doing more harm to the environment in the recovery of the oil than leaving it in place might leave," Walker said.
Some state officials don't buy it, though.
"All we're asking them to do is to take, conduct proactive efforts to find that remaining oil in the Gulf and remove it," said Garret Graves of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Despite Vitter's invitation, BP did not send a representative to the Senate hearing. The company had previously announced it was seeking permission to clean up oil related material, which remains buried along the coast.