Governor Bobby Jindal held a press conference today following a meeting with the Unified Command Group to give an update on the state’s actions in response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier in the day, Governor Jindal visited the Coast Guard Command Center in Houma for a briefing on the oil spill and then he joined Coast Guard Rear Admiral Mary Landry and BP executives for a flyover of the oil spill area in the Gulf. At the press conference, Governor Jindal emphasized the state’s continued monitoring of the oil spill in the Gulf and preparations for any potential effects on Louisiana’s coastline in the coming days.
Governor Jindal said, “We’re approaching this situation just as we would do before a hurricane comes ashore. As I’ve said many times before, we must hope for the best and prepare for the worst. That’s exactly what we’re doing in this situation. We’re taking every step to ensure our people and our environment are protected should the oil reach us.
“We continue to monitor the forecast for the oil spill’s impact on our coast and every action we are taking is out of an abundance of caution. Because there is a possibility that oil will reach Louisiana’s coastline, I have directed all agencies to examine their roles in the response to potential damage caused by oil in the event it moves to Louisiana’s coast. We’re doing everything we can to protect the livelihood of our citizens who make their living in the fishing industry and the wildlife that grace our coastal areas.”
Governor Jindal said the state has asked the Coast Guard and BP to set up two phone hotlines – one for people who are interested in volunteering in the clean-up effort and a second hotline for people who have suffered property or income losses due to the spill.
The state’s emergency web site – www.Emergency.Louisiana.gov – has been activated and will serve as a central point of information for residents affected by the potential oil effects on Louisiana’s coast. Information such as beach and fishing area closures will be included on this web site.
Actions By State Agencies
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF):
Yesterday, the Coast Guard began working to protect the Pass-A-Loutre Wildlife Management area by placing 55,000 feet of oil containment boom around the affected area. Due to weather conditions, only around 9,000 feet of boom have been placed at Pass-A-Loutre. The 55,000 feet of boom was requested by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF). LDWF has requested 100,000 feet of boom to be staged at Venice. LDWF is working alongside their federal partners today to identify more priority areas to protect. Governor Jindal noted that these priority areas are where there is a concentration of wildlife and nesting birds.
LDWF is working with federal partners to see about the possibility of involving the fishing industry with the clean-up effort. LDWF’s biologists are also assessing the water to determine any potential closures for commercial and recreational fishermen. The earliest closures would come at some point late Friday or early Saturday morning.
After consulting with key fishing industry leaders and fisheries biologists, LDWF is also announcing that a special shrimp season will open this evening at 6PM in the portion of Breton and Chandeleur Sounds commonly-known as the “double-rig line.” “Reports have indicated that a number of large white shrimp are available in this portion of state waters and LDWF is making every effort available to the commercial fishing industry to harvest this marketable crop before the potential impact of the oil spill. These waters will remain open to shrimp harvesting until further notice.
The Governor stressed that Louisiana seafood is currently safe to eat and LDWF and other appropriate agencies will continue to monitor the fisheries. LDWF is also considering partnering with the Department of Corrections to train prisoners to help clean birds that may be impacted by the oil.
A toll-free number has been issued by the federal government to report oiled or injured wildlife. To report affected wildlife call (866) 557-1401.
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ):
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has 40 regional staff members with oil spill and hazard experience deployed.
Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA):
The Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) is evaluating models associated with the Caernarvon Diversion to identify the best way to use water from the Mississippi River to help mitigate the impact of the spill on Louisiana’s coast.
Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH):
The Department of Health (DHH) will be issuing advisories if it is not safe to swim. Additionally, they are monitoring oyster beds and will take appropriate action shortly if oil impacts these areas. At this point, LDH does not anticipate a drinking water problem.
GOHSEP has deployed its mobile command center to the Unified Area Command in Robert, Louisiana.