LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

BAY JIMMY, La.-- The final kill may have permanently plugged the broken well in the Gulf, but in Plaquemines Parish, the finality is hard to swallow.

'We sleep with one eye open, wondering if we're going to have another leak,' said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. 'So, that is great news, that we know, since that well has been stopped, now everyday we're making progress. But, I tell you, we got to be on our toes.'

Lately, what is keeping the parish on its collective toes are fish kills: at least four major ones, within the last two weeks.

'Millions of fish, absolutely, millions,' said P.J. Hahn, the parish's Coastal Zone Management Director.

Hahn has been documenting the fish kills, including one in Bayou Robinson on Sunday.

'We're used to seeing fish kills out here at this time of year, but not at this number, mass number of fish that are dying, and not in the frequency that they are occurring now,' he said.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries said the fish kills are due to low oxygen -- and not related to the oil spill. However, parish leaders remain unconvinced. On Sunday, representatives of the district attorney's office in Plaquemines, went out to one of the fish kill areas. They collected samples, which could end up being used in civil penalties case related to the oil spill.

'We're just building our case,' said Christina Cossich DeYoung, a private attorney whose firm is assisting the district attorney's office. 'We're coming to take samples of the fish, to take scrape the fish, to see if there is any oil in the fish.'

Beyond the uncertainty of the fish kill, though, is the certainty that no new oil will flow into the Gulf, now that the relief well is finished and sealed. Yet, the final kill of the well brings little comfort to people in places still getting hit by oil. In Bay Jimmy, oil is still washing ashore, even though the well was capped back in mid-July.

'We're losing this marsh,' Hahn said, as he pointed at the oiled blades of marsh grass.

Just in the past week alone, clean-up crews in Plaquemines Parish collected more than 37,000 gallons of oily-water mix and another 8,700 bags of tar balls.

'We still have a lot of work to do out here, there is no doubt about it,' Hahn said. 'We're just getting a steady collection of oil.'

It is a steady collection, which is now breeding a sense of anxiety about just how far the clean up will go, past the final kill of the well.

'We're not going away in Plaquemines Parish, 'til every drop of oil is picked up that can be picked up, 'til every blade of grass is restored,' Nungesser said. ''Til we're absolutely sure that fish, oysters, crab and shrimp are not dying because of the oil or dispersants and that every single fishermen and every single family that is affected by this oil, is made whole.'

It is a task that could take years to reach its conclusion.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://www.wwltv.com/story/news/gulf-oil-spill/2014/08/27/14343842/