Mayor Mitch Landrieu and St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis today asserted that they will remain vigilant and that every asset available will be deployed to protect the Lake Pontchartrain basin from further oil encroachment a day after tar balls were first spotted in Lake Borgne and the Rigolets. On Sunday, 680 pounds of oily material were removed from the Rigolets area. Today, quarter size tar balls were removed from the Treasure Isle vicinity of St. Tammany Parish, as the St. Tammany Parish models predicted.
"I was out at Fort Pike earlier this morning and can attest that our assets are in place and crews are picking up tar balls as quickly as the weather conditions permit," said Mayor Landrieu. "We have always asserted that this is going to be a long, tough slog, but I remain confident that every asset we have available is being deployed to protect the Lake."
"We are continuing to utilize all our resources to remove the tar balls in the area," said President Davis. "We are actively monitoring Lake Borgne, Lake Catherine and Lake Pontchartrain, and using the models to best deploy assets where they will be needed. This is a fight we are committed to, and one which will require both time and resources."
In a combined effort to keep available assets ahead of need, an additional 30 vessels of opportunity are being called into service immediately.
It has now been 77 days since the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
"The oil flow doesn't respect parish boundaries, so we will continue to work together to ensure that every action imaginable is being taken to protect Lake Pontchartrain- an important natural and recreational resource bounded by six parishes- which connects the New Orleans metropolitan area. This disaster threatens both our natural resources and the economic livelihoods of many of our residents and we will remain vigilant as we fight to save our way of life," said Landrieu and Davis.
Approximately 150,000 feet of boom has been deployed as part of joint protection efforts and 35 barges are in place to close off six different cuts or passes should oil creep farther into Lake Borgne. Additionally, there are 24 skimmer assets in the area ready to collect approaching oil with more on the way.
Orleans and St. Tammany Parish officials have worked cooperatively since the week before the beginning of Mayor Landrieu's administration. They have developed integrated boom and berm plans to protect Lake Pontchartrain, Lake Borgne and Lake Catherine while ensuring these plans were tied into those developed by St. Bernard Parish. In addition to a multi-tiered boom deployment effort, the U.S. Navy drilled pilings in Lake Borgne at the Rigolets, Chef Menteur Pass, and four other cuts or passes to which barges were tied, and if necessary, can be closed to keep oil out of Lake Pontchartrain.
Last week, officials from both parishes requested 9,000 feet of a permeable filter fence material called X-Tex, which can be placed on the shoreline to impede oil while letting water pass through. An additional request of X-Tex is expected to be made this week.
In late May, Mayor Landrieu and President Davis asked the U.S. Coast Guard to approve the building a series of earthen berms and rock dikes in Lake Borgne from Alligator Bend to the East Pearl River. The Alligator Bend and Seven Lagoons Shoreline Projection Projects were originally developed to restore the coast as part of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act (Breaux Act), but can also prevent oil from encroaching into the marshland along Lake Borgne and help protect the lower Pontchartrain Basin.
Vincent Sylvain is publisher of The New Orleans Agenda.com, the leading local Internet alternative for information on News, Arts, Culture & Entertainment in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Region.
Photograph by David Hobbs, NOLA Beez editorial coordinator.
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