Louisiana rep whose granddaughter uses AR-15 rifle files concealed carry expansion

Corps approves dredging; state can build sand berms to stop oil

Wade McIntyre
Gov. Bobby Jindal said dredging would begin over the weekend after approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction of sand berms to protect Louisiana barrier islands. Jindal spoke to reporters Friday at Fort Jackson in lower Plaquemine Parish Friday. Looking on is Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Louisiana won another incremental battle in the oil war to save its gulf coast Friday.

Gov. Bobby Jindal announced on the grounds of this restored Civil War fort in lower Plaquemines Parish that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved construction of sand berms to protect barrier islands from oil released after the BP rig explosion April 20.

The cutterhead dredging vessel California anchored near the mouth of the Mississippi River was the first dredge scheduled to begin pumping over the weekend, after it completes island and wildlife surveys at the dredging site in the northern Chandelier Islands.

The half dozen sand berrm sections to be built at selected barrier islands can proceed now that the corps approved Louisiana’s monitoring report of the project.

“We’ve go six dredges under contract,” Jindal said. Those vessels will eventually be moved to Pelican and Scofield islands, the governor said.

While Jindal spoke at a news conference, accompanied by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and LSU football coach Les Miles, eight Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters flew overhead continually picking up and transporting 2,000 pound sandbags to Pelican and Scofield islands.

The airdrop program is designed to compliment the upcoming dredging work by filling gaps in the barrier islands.  Over 14 million pounds of bagged sand has been dropped on those two islands, Jindal said.

“We’re in a battle, we’re in a war to keep this oil out of wetlands, off our coast,” the governor said. “We going to do everything we can to keep this oil out of our marshes so it doesn’t do even more damage.”

  Meanwhile, cleanup work and prevention efforts to keep more oil from penetrating the marshes at the mouth of the Mississippi River proceeded at a tortuous pace Friday.

  Hard booms deployed to stop oncoming oil had arrived too late to prevent intrusion in the marshes in numerous instances, and when installed were sometimes overtopped by strong currents and waves in choppy waters by the stuff.

  Inside the outer hard ring, absorbent booms were strung out to take in oil that overtopped the first barrier.

  “In some cases it works and some it doesn't,” said retired Wildlife and Fisheries Department Agent Tommy Prickett.

  Rose cane growing in the marshes at Pass-a-Loutre could be seen brown and dying from the roots up, while tops of the cane was colored bleached green.

The unfortunate thing for Lousiana is that technology for exploring and producing oil has gone from the Wright Brothers to a jumbo jet in the last forty years, Prickett said, while the technology for cleaning up oil is still where it was when the first plane was launched.

“They're doing the best they can with the available technology and we're all concerned whether or not its going to be enough, “he said.

Jindal and Nungesser that the sand berm barriers will be more efficient than the booms, though they concede the berms may not withstand onslaught by hurricane winds.

The oil line can be seen Friday in marshes near Pass Loutre lighthouse at the mouth of the Mississsippi River.