PASS A LOUTRE, La. (CN) – Twenty-four miles of Louisiana’s marshland is covered in an inch-thick layer of oil while the Army Corps of Engineers stands by, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser said.
“I’m sick to my stomach,” Nungesser said. “It’s our worst fear. As this moves inland, it’ll destroy everything.”
Nungesser and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Wednesday inspected where the oil has washed up in the Pass a Loutre marsh, roughly a half-mile long. The sludge was the result of a drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in April, killing 11.
“Biologists are saying in five to seven days, you’ll see the impact on all the greenery out here,” Jindal said. “It will become discolored or it will become yellow.”.
Nungesser said it’ll all be dead in about a week, and that there are six to eight areas nearby just like it.
“As you can see, there’s nowhere to stop it,” Nungesser said. “We’ve got crews right around the corner here booming the entrances to the marsh, that tide comes up, it just drops it as a blanket. And that’s what happened here.”
Cleanup won’t be easy.
“You might take some of the big part out, but the harm is already done,” Nungesser said. “And if you try going in the marsh, you’re just going to mush it into the mud and into the ground to make it longer in effect.”
Jindal added: “You look back behind you, it would be virtually impossible to get that oil out of that cane, and you look at the impact that this is going to have on the marine life that calls this home.”
Both Jindal and Nungesser urged the Army Corps of Engineers to approve an emergency dredging plan.
“Two weeks ago, we would have pumped the barrier island out there. There’s a good chance this would have been on that beach out there today. Instead it’s in the marsh,” Nungesser said. “Shame on them for not approving this. Shame on them for not doing everything possible.
“And that’s the real crime behind this. We have an opportunity to stop it, and we’re not doing it,” he said.
In response to the push to have barrier islands built, the Army Corps of Engineers said in a statement: “That request is being processed under emergency permit procedures. We are currently evaluating all of this information for potential environmental impacts, as required under (the National Environmental Police Act).”