Louisiana Sends Coastal Protection Plans to Coast Guard, BP
Today, Governor Bobby Jindal highlighted the coastal parish plans to protect the state's wetlands from the effects of oil that continues to spill into the Gulf at an estimated rate of around 210,000 gallons a day. The coastal plans detail parish and state coordinated efforts to protect the coast from the effects of the oil and they were submitted to the Coast Guard for approval and BP for authorization last night.
Governor Jindal said, "We have asked BP for their plans to address the oil leak many times over the last two weeks since this leak began and it became clear that there was no detailed plan to address an incident on this scale.
"On Saturday, we met with Parish leaders here at GOSHEP to incorporate input and guidance from parish leaders who know the best ways to protect their own areas. Saturday night, leaders from all across coastal Louisiana in Baton Rouge and we asked Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis to demonstrate the plan they developed, as an example of how other coastal parish leaders could develop their own plans.
"Yesterday, we met with the President and we briefed him on our work here to develop our own response plans in coordination with local leaders. We also flew over the oil spill area. We stressed to the President yesterday that to support these plans we would need two things – one: funding from BP, and two: approval from the Coast Guard Incident Commander. The President made clear that he supported these efforts and he was glad that the state and parishes were leaning forward and creating their own plans to respond to this incident.
"He said he was committed to having BP pay for the response to this spill and working to get a streamlined approval process in place so our coastal parish leaders can quickly begin to get their primary – and in some cases also their secondary and third – defense systems in place to protect our wetlands.
"I want to reiterate again – this spill fundamentally threatens our way of life in Louisiana. That is why we didn’t just want to sit down with Plaquemines and St. Bernard Parishes this weekend – we called on every parish president all along the coast of Louisiana. We want to have a comprehensive plan in place for wherever the oil moves. We know the slick of oil in the water continues to be quickly-changing and we must be prepared to mitigate the effects of the oil on our coast no matter where it moves.
"Last night, we submitted worst-case scenario detailed plans for all coastal parishes, requesting hard boom, absorbent boom and other resources for secondary lines of defense, including jack up barges for staging and quick deployment of booms. The plans also include requests for Coast Guard training of fishermen at specific sites established all along the Louisiana coast.
"These plans are aimed at preventing oil from entering our coastal waters and minimizing the impact of oil on our fragile wetlands and marine wildlife. I want to highlight that while these plans must be approved by the Coast Guard and funded by BP, it is the people of Louisiana who will make them work. It is our own people in coastal communities all across the state who stand ready, willing and able to protect their homes, their businesses and their way of life who will make these plans work. They will help make these plans work. Each parish plan calls for fishermen to help deploy many of the primary and secondary lines of defense called for in their plans.
Leaning Forward with Response Efforts
The Governor also said that the state is planning in the event that the effects of the oil spill become a worst-case scenario situation.
Governor Jindal said state officials met with the Coast Guard in Venice yesterday and requested several resources in anticipation of the additional response resources these parish plans would need in order to respond to a worst-case scenario of the spill that could impact any area of the Louisiana coastline.
Governor Jindal said, "Because the well remains unstable and there is no certainty that the situation will not deteriorate, we developed our worst-case scenario request for resources. A worst-case scenario plan would require three million more feet of absorbent boom, five million more feet of hard boom, 30 "jack up" barges, and the Coast Guard to prepare to train fishermen to layout and monitor boom.
"I want to be clear that we do not expect to get these resources tomorrow; however, considering the timeframe for turning around the requests we have made to the Coast Guard and BP to date, we wanted to lean forward and request the resources required to protect coastal Louisiana under the worst case scenario. We will continue to be in constant communication with the Coast Guard and BP on our resource needs.
"We pre-ordered these resources to give the Coast Guard a jump start on getting the funding for them approved by BP and getting us ahead of the curve on implementing these parish plans. The plans we submitted to BP and the Coast Guard last night are initial response plans and we are working with parishes now to develop supplemental plans that anticipate greater threats to our coast.
"It is important to point out that we will stage boom at critical locations so it can be deployed within 48 hours in the event oil shifts in the water. In the immediate response phase, parishes will also work to establish regional staging areas for supplies. They will also immediately begin to inventory, identify and organize multiple shore bases and begin to train local fisherman and others to be involved in clean up efforts. The plans also detail action steps for when oil is five miles away from the coast, 36 hours away, and then throughout the impact of oil on the coast.
"Our first priorities are the primary areas affected by the oil – St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parishes. St. Bernard Parish has 35,000 feet of hard boom in hand. Their immediate request is for a total of 74,000 feet of hard boom. President Nungesser said Plaquemines Parish is aggressively staging and deploying 24 miles – or 126,720 feet – of absorbent boom and more than 100,000 feet of hard boom. They also planning to stage multiple "jack up" barges. I plan to visit President Nungesser tomorrow in Plaquemines as they activate their first "jack up" barge in their response efforts."
Governor Jindal also detailed some of the key materials included in the worst-case scenario coastal parish plans.
Governor Jindal said, "There are numerous critical areas along the marsh edge that have been identified as strategically located for deployment of boom measures to minimize the entrance of the oil into the interior marsh areas. We estimate that approximately 760,000 feet of boom would be needed to address the worst-case scenario plans. This includes a number of critical areas located throughout the Louisiana coast, from the Mississippi State line at the Pearl River to Sabine Pass at the Texas State line.
"The effectiveness of implementing booming strategies will depend on site-specific conditions, such as water velocities, tidal influence, wind speed, and wave height. The plans also include tactics referred to as Towed Boom Measures, Anchored Boom Measures, Barge Boom Measures, and Retention Booms – all depending on the conditions and the environmental sensitivities in a certain area."
Governor Jindal added that to supplement booming activities, absorbent materials – including cotton booms, pads, and/or loose material - will be used to collect the initial amounts of oil and will be managed onsite to minimize the amounts of oil that may penetrate the booms.
The Governor said, "Absorbent booms or pads have low capacity but very high efficiency. As such, total amounts of needed absorbent will depend on the amounts of oil encountered at each site and must be replaced when absorbency limits are reached. Absorbent boom is intended for use in areas too small or sensitive for other skimmers. Absorbent types actually applied will be tailored to parochial conditions."
"Jack Up" Barges
Governor Jindal said coastal plans for worst-case scenarios also call for "jack up" barges to be stationed across the coast and serve as mobile field bases. He said 20 barges are capable of transporting materials necessary for the incident, as well as providing food and shelter for the oil spill and shoreline clean up teams and first aid as necessary. These barges can be deployed as conditions change and areas of critical need shift.
The Governor said, "It is also important to point out that just like with the booming, we have leaned forward in our requests of "jack up" barges by requesting 30, because once we have an initial 20 in place – we expect to need to establish secondary and third lines of defenses as the oil shifts that will require additional resources in areas further in the coast."
Governor Jindal also spoke about the requests for training fisherman and other coastal responders in boom deployment and monitoring, oil collection protocols, and active containment strategies.
The Governor said plans call for Coast Guard trainers to be prepared to train workers in Chalmette, Belle Chasse, Slidell, Houma, Golden Meadow, Morgan City, Abbeville, and Lake Charles.
"It is very important that the some of the training begin now so we do not have a shortage of manpower should the oil spill begin to move more quickly to our coast, the well condition deteriorates, or the oil unpredictably shifts toward another area," Governor Jindal said.
"Training needs to begin now because we need to ensure we have folks already standing by and prepared to implement the plans if the need arises. Each boom deployment and response site will have a supervisor that has the necessary 40-hour and 8-hour emergency supervisory training.
"Our request for training also includes financial management training under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 – so parishes can learn the relevant regulatory and legal guidelines for their response efforts."
The Governor also outlined some of the initial plans for East of the Mississippi River - including all of Plaquemines Parish.
The CPRA and parish emergency managers identified 82 closure points east of the Mississippi River and on the west bank of Plaquemines Parish. This would include booming an area of nearly 45,000 feet with over 200,000 feet of hard boom - due to multiple layers - and over 50,000 feet of secondary and tertiary removal measures.
Governor Jindal said, "In talking to St. Tammany Parish President just today, they indicated that their supplemental plan will likely request another 41,000 feet of hard boom for St. Tammany, in addition to their original plan for 11,000 feet of boom. St. Bernard Parish President just today asked for another 165,000 feet of boom that will be included in their supplemental plan, in addition to the 74,000 feet he already requested. This means we anticipate needing another 206,000 feet of boom to secure the East side of the River in these parishes being primarily impacted."
The plan for east of the Mississippi River calls for the deployment of 29 teams from 12 shore bases and staging areas and seven mobile deployment sites. These mobile sites will consist of lift boats or jack up barges that will be converted to active spill fighting platforms when oil seeps through these initial lines of defense.
This eastern coastal worst-case scenario plan is estimated to cost $107.7 million for the initial 30-day period. The Governor is asking BP to fund these efforts and the Coast Guard to approve them.
The primary worst-case scenario plan for the West Side of the Mississippi River - excluding Plaquemines Parish includes 122 closure points with a width of nearly 92,000 feet protected by over 400,000 feet of boom. In addition, over 100,000 feet of successive lines of defense and other removal measures are included in the plan.
The worst-case scenario plan includes five training sites from Houma to Lake Charles. The plan calls for the deployment of 42 teams west of the river operating from 19 onshore sites and 13 mobile offshore deployment sites. Again, these offshore sites would be mobilized and converted to active oil removal efforts should oil overcome initial containment measures.
The western coastal worst-case scenario plan is estimated to cost more than $177.8 million for the initial 30-day period. The Governor is asking BP to fund these efforts and the Coast Guard to approve them.
Fishermen Assistance Program
The Governor also said today that the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is working in partnership with LED to develop a Fishermen Assistance Plan. This plan calls on BP to address three important components, including:
- Immediate assistance to fishermen unable to work due to the oil spill and closure of fishing areas.
- Integrating fishermen into the Vessel of Opportunity program to provide them with alternative work opportunities.
- Restoring fishery habitat and fisheries stock adversely impacted by the spill to get them back to work as quickly as possible.
The Department is requesting that BP fund this initiative to support our fishing industry, which is being directly impacted by the spill.
National Guard Update
The National Guard has completed hazardous material training and protective equipment training for their direct responders to ensure that each is prepared to safely operate in areas that may be contaminated with oil.
Due to rising waters and high winds, flood waters threatened to over-top the levees in four locations. The National Guard worked with Plaquemines Parish responders to place over one mile of sandbags that ultimately prevented flooding of Highway 23 yesterday.
In St. Bernard Parish, the Louisiana National Guard is supporting parish officials at Breton Sound Marina and Campo Marina. Guardsmen are staging boom materials and accounting for vessels emplacing boom. Yesterday, Guardsmen loaded over 11,000 feet of boom material.
In addition to the National Guard's liaison teams located in Jefferson, Orleans, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines Parishes, they deployed Liaison teams to St. Tammany Parish.
Thus far, LANG has deployed the following equipment to support response operations:
- Over 125 All Terrain Vehicles
- Over 55 Boats
- Over 140 pieces of Engineer Equipment
- Over 40 Transport Vehicles
Today, the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries trained 80 inmates from the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center who will assist in the cleaning of oil-impacted wildlife recovered from coastal areas. The inmates, who are cleared for community service duty by the Department of Corrections, were provided short course training to handle support duty for professional wildlife rescue personnel.
Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, Inc. provided the short course training. The inmate trainees will be staged to work in two 40-man shifts, beginning tomorrow. LDWF's Coastal & Nongame Division has 50 people who are helping with boom deployment and are on standby to help with wildlife injury reports.
Wildlife announced today that the special shrimp season in the remaining portion of Zone 1 and all of Zone 2 will close tomorrow at 6 p.m. Last week, LDWF announced a special shrimp season in these waters due to potential effects from the oil spill.
Governor Jindal said, "It's important to note that tomorrow's closure is not a result of oil spill. Instead, LDWF biologists collected data that indicates the marketable white shrimp have been harvested and the juvenile brown shrimp remain. In an effort to preserve the smaller brown shrimp, the season has been closed."
LDWF's enforcement division established a mobile forward command at the Breton Sound Marina in Hopedale this morning to monitor the clean up efforts, patrol the closure areas and to respond to any possible search and rescue missions. They have 95 agents and 50 boats dedicated to this mission.
Louisiana Workforce Commission Update
The Louisiana Workforce Commission has mobile units in operation in Plaquemines and St. Bernard parishes today. The mobile units are on hand to handle unemployment claims in connection with oil spill as well as process applications from people seeking oil spill clean-up job opportunities.
Louisiana State Police Emergency Services (HazMat) have been deployed to coastal areas for shoreline assessments and close monitoring of Louisiana coastal regions. Hazmat Troopers are also working closely with local emergency representatives to develop a proactive plan of action in response the oil impacting the coast.
Additionally, LSP Troop B based in Metairie, has Troopers serving as liaison officers to the St. Bernard and Plaquemines Parish Offices of Emergency Preparedness as well as at the Shell Beach staging area to ensure logistical and operational needs are met.
The Governor also announced today that DOTD has opened the Ostrica Locks in Plaquemines Parish to help divert the oil from entering coastal areas.