[StBernard] Jindal upset after state's vacuum barges put on hold

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sat Jun 19 18:21:56 EDT 2010

Jindal upset after state's vacuum barges put on hold

by Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News


Posted on June 17, 2010 at 5:13 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 17 at 7:04 PM

BARATARIA BASIN, La. -- It was a frustrating morning for Gov. Bobby Jindal,
who personally made sure the state's vacuum barges were back out in the
marsh sucking up BP oil.

The Coast Guard shut down the highly successful vacuum operation to inspect
the vessels on Wednesday, and state leaders are now complaining the Coast
Guard is getting in the way of the oil spill response.

The state's fleet of 16 vacuum barges went back to work Thursday afternoon.
The Louisiana National Guard-designed vessels can now suck up about 4000
gallons of oil every 90 minutes.

Despite their success at cleaning up BP polluted wetlands like Bay Jimmy,
located in the Barataria Basin between Grand Isle and lower Lafitte, the
Coast Guard shut down their operation for more than a day.

Jindal traveled to Empire on Thursday only to find eight barges still tied
up at the marina.

"What's so frustrating is the stories kept changing," Jindal said.
"Yesterday morning, they said we're shutting down. Then, they can't find the
boats to go out and inspect. They didn't realize that they'd approved them

Coast Guard Commander Dan Laur said the vessels needed safety inspections.

The issue that we were looking at is the safety and stability with the
vessels, safety of the crew on board, make sure they had the proper
firefighting equipment, there was grounding in case lighting as you see,
things like that," Laur said.

The governor says the fact that these barges were tied up at the dock for
the past 24 hours is just another example of a disconnect between the
federal response and the state and local response to this oil spill

"We never got a clear answer why they were shutting it down, what they
needed to do. This morning again, pushed the White House, met with the
captain in charge of the Coast Guard for Louisiana's oil spill response.
They told us they were going to let them go this morning and you know what
the contractors told us the inspector finally showed up this morning and
told them never mind," Jindal said.

By mid-afternoon the barges were back on the water sucking up oil in Bay

"We were very disappointed we could have actually had these barges ready to
go a lot longer than that, but we've been on hold with the Coast Guard,"
said Kenneth Marbach, a vacuum barge contractor.

The governor flew over the operation pointing out oil on the ground and in
the water that he says could have been cleaned up by now.

"Every drop of oil that hits our wetlands is one more damage, it's one more
damage to our ecosystem and our way of life," he said.

Jindal also flew over east Grand Terre Island to check on the progress of
the state's first sand barrier building project. So far crews have added
about 120 acres of sand beaches to the island to help catch oil before it
enters sensitive inland waterways.

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