Louisiana beach restoration effort hampered by BP oil slick’s continuing presence
FOURCHON, LA–A race to save a six-mile span of Louisiana beach as it rapidly erodes into the Gulf of Mexico is being hindered by oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill constantly washing ashore, according to local and state officials who are fighting to hold the oil giant accountable for the ongoing destruction.
According to the Daily Comet of Lafourche Parish, Louisiana, the Caminada Headland project is using about $63 million in offshore oil revenue from the Coastal Impact Assistance program and the state of Louisiana to reclaim a stretch of beach in Fourchon, Louisiana, disappearing at the rate of 45 feet per year. But authorities working on the restoration project, which is using nearly 3 million cubic yards of dredged sand to build 8-foot dunes and extend the beaches by up to 80 feet, say the BP oil spill continues to thwart these efforts.
Garret Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority and the state’s top oil spill recovery official, told the Daily Comment that oil-spill response and cleanup activities are still going on in the area.
“In addition, we are concerned about existing oil remaining on Fourchon Beach and the potential for remobilization of oil, especially as hurricane season approaches,” Mr. Graves told the Daily Comet, which notes that more than 200 miles of Louisiana coastline remain polluted with oil.
However, the bigger problem may be the presence of submerged mats of oil lingering offshore in Louisiana and other sections of the Gulf Coast heavily impacted by BP’s 2010 oil spill. Officials working on beach restoration efforts are urging the Coast Guard to take a proactive approach to cleaning up the oil mats.
“We are concerned about submerged oil mats off the coast of the project site and in a number of other locations along our coast,” Mr. Graves told the Daily Comet. “It is crucial that the Coast Guard is proactive in locating and cleaning up submerged oil mats and sources of oil along our coast,” he added. “Proactive response, instead of the current wait-for-it-to-wash-onshore method, allows us the chance to reduce continued impacts to the ecologically rich shoreline and the wildlife that inhabit the marshes and beaches in Louisiana.”
Cathy Norman, who manages a private land trust that owns about 9.5 miles of Fourchon Beach, told the Daily Comet that BP’s oil spill cleanup efforts in the area stopped, but the oil keeps coming. “They seem to be in a hurry to declare areas clear, and we continually find oil on the beach,” she told the Daily Comet.
Restoration of the area’s beaches plays a vital role in protecting the health of surrounding wetlands, Port Fourchon, and the community at large.
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