For Immediate Release: July 28, 2010
Contact: Chris Macaluso
CPRA Discusses Oil Spill Clean-up and Containment and Damage Caused by BP Spill at Monthly Meeting at State Capitol
BATON ROUGE -- The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority met Wednesday in Baton Rouge to discuss ongoing oil containment efforts as well as work already underway to repair damages to the state's wetlands, fisheries and wildlife caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Authority Chairman Garret Graves gave an update of oil sightings over the last several days and the effort to build sand berms to protect coastal wetlands from oil.
"I have flown over the area several times in the last two weeks and we continue to find a large amount of oil in the Gulf that is threatening our coast," Graves said. "While we are encouraged that BP is making progress to kill the well, we need to remember that about 2 million barrels of oil are still in the Gulf."
Graves said Monday he spotted oil in the water in the Grand Isle area as well as east of the Mississippi River at the Chandeleur Islands. These sightings show the need to continue skimming, boom deployment, and the construction of sand berms, he said.
"Earlier this week, the National Guard cleaned up more than 700 pounds of tar balls and oiled debris from the sand berm we are building near the Chandeluer Islands and we have cleaned up more than 1200 pounds of tar balls there in the last month," he said. "And we continue to get reports from fishermen about oil under the surface in Barataria Bay and other areas. This re-enforces that we need to continue to work to build berms both east and west of the river."
Several authority members recently accompanied Graves to the E-4 sand berm segment located near the Chandeleur Islands. All agreed that the berms are collecting tar balls and debris.
Graves' report led to a discussion of the ongoing National Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) being conducted by state and federal agencies.
The CPRA has been designated the lead state trustee for the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Other state trustees include the Departments of Wildlife and Fisheries, Natural Resources and Environmental Quality as well as the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinators Office. Federal NRDA trustees are the Department of Commerce through NOAA and the Department of the Interior.
The NRDA process involves three stages: pre-assessment, restoration planning, and restoration implementation. Pre-assessment activities have been taking place throughout the last 90 days, said Karolien Debusschere, representing the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinators Office (LOSCO), who gave an overview of the NRDA process to the Authority.
"State trustee agencies have been gathering water, vegetation and soil samples as well as conducting assessments of wildlife and fisheries," Debusschere said. "Louisiana is in a better position right now than other Gulf States affected by this spill because there has been so much ecosystem restoration planning conducted to restore coastal wetlands taking place before the oil spill."
Drue Banta from the Office of Coastal Activities said her office is identifying specific projects that can be built quickly to repair damage caused by the oil as well as coastal restoration projects that will help compensate for the loss of use of resources until they are restored.
Those projects are also key elements of the state's 2012 update to the coastal Master Plan as well as plans being developed by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and the Council on Environmental Quality.
"We are working right now to develop a process by which projects will be brought before the CPRA for review and approval and we are urging that these projects be implemented with minimal delay," she said.
State and federal legislation enacted in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill authorize the National Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) to ensure that the natural resources of areas damaged by oil spills are returned to their pre-spill levels.
In other business, the Authority approved a motion authorizing the mitigation work for Reach H of the Morganza to the Gulf Levee System in Terrebonne Parish.
Terrebonne Levee and Conservation District Director Reggie Dupre described a host of innovative techniques, including a sediment pump that can be attached to bucket dredges, the TLCD intends to use to build wetlands adjacent to Reach H in accordance with the permit to build the Morganza system.
"We need to get the mitigation of this project underway as quickly as possible," said Lou Buatt, Authority member representing the Department of Natural Resources. "We are always looking to come up with ways to do it better, quicker and cheaper and this is a shot to accomplish that."
If you need additional information, please call the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority at (225) 342-3968 or e-mail at email@example.com .