[StBernard] St. Bernard Parish officials announce action plan to address oil spill

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Sat May 1 11:20:31 EDT 2010

St. Bernard Parish officials announce action plan

First phase of local fishermen to be trained Saturday so they can begin
deploying protective booms;

oil projected to hit St. Bernard coastline by Sunday

St. Bernard Parish officials assured residents Friday night that progress
was being made to protect St. Bernard's coastline from the drifting oil
spill in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig operated
by British Petroleum, which was drilling in 5,000 feet of water about 40
miles offshore when it exploded last week.

With landfall projected to affect St. Bernard's marsh by Sunday, officials
announced that the first phase of fishermen will be trained Saturday to work
alongside BP contractors to place protective measures in St. Bernard.

St. Bernard Parish President Craig P. Taffaro Jr. said those fishermen who
had signed up since Thursday's planning meeting have been contacted to
attend a training session Saturday.

President Taffaro flew over the area again Friday to get a view of the
spill, which he said had clearly not reached St. Bernard yet. President
Taffaro, Parish Council members and officials from the Sheriff's Office met
throughout the day and worked in close cooperation with federal and state
authorities and British Petroleum to address the massive oil spill in an
effort to protect its coastlines, marshlands, and commercial fishing

Meanwhile, St. Bernard officials stressed that the drinking supply is safe
because the parish's only intake is far inland on the Mississippi River.
Furthermore, state regulators have assured parish officials that smells
should not be harmful. Persons with special respiratory conditions should be
mindful of the odors. President Taffaro asked that residents report any
odors to the St. Bernard Office Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness
at 504-278-4268. When calling, please be specific about the time and
location of the odor.

Current projections show that the oil should reach the Chandeleur Islands
and the outer edges of the Biloxi Marsh by Sunday. Based on those
projections and the continued cooperation with the Coast Guard and BP, St.
Bernard enjoyed the benefits of this increased cooperation and BP laid down
some booms today in St. Bernard waters. However, efforts were stymied by
tidal and weather conditions which make booming in some areas ineffective.

The current plan is to use booms and the outer marsh as a barrier to keep it
from entering the interior marshland of St. Bernard, President Taffaro said.

Parish officials announced that they have launched a training meeting for
Phase 1 for those who signed up to work with BP's Vessel of Opportunity
Program. The long term goal is that over several days workers will continue
to place multiple layers of both hard booms, which are meant to contain the
oil, and absorbent booms, which are meant to absorb the oil.

St. Bernard Parish Councilman Fred Everhardt said he wanted fishermen who
signed up to know that there will be more phases of fishermen being called
to help. Those who received phone calls inviting them to the training on
Saturday are only Phase 1.

Councilman Everhardt said he has received calls from commercial fishermen
upset about closures to the fishing industry Friday by state regulators. He
said parish officials have asked the state to reopen commercial fishing in
the areas where they oil hasn't reached yet in an effort to let the
commercial fishermen catch as much as possible before the oil hits the area.
All seafood caught in local waters is safe.

Because commercial fishing has been suspended in most of the local waters,
St. Bernard is trying to link the fishermen with BP's Vessel of Opportunity
program so they can help while being compensated.

President Taffaro said he needed to thank Gov. Jindal and the federal
Congressional delegation for assuring that the parish received the needed
liaisons from the Coast Guard, National Guard, Wildlife and Fisheries and BP
to allow local officials to better address the issue.

While the general public is mostly unaffected by this crisis, President
Taffaro stressed the potential catastrophic impact for the area's commercial

"If this does reach our marshlands. this certainly puts us in line of being
part of two of the most devastating natural and manmade disasters in the
history of the country," President Taffaro said. "That's quite a challenge.
I am calling on residents to not lose their hope and their faith as
difficult as may be.. We are certainly hopeful and still praying that wind

Local commercial fisherman who can assist in any local efforts to protect
our coastline in St. Bernard can continue sign up with St. Bernard Parish
Government at the website www.sbpg.net at the Contact Us button on top of
the web site.

Please include the following information: Vessel name, Owner/Captain name,
Contact Number or Email if available, Length of Vessel, Horse Power and

St. Bernard Parish will send this volunteer list to British Petroleum for
the Vessel of Opportunity program which may hire locals to help with the
spill. Additionally, it will be kept for St. Bernard Parish for any
secondary response efforts.

If you have difficulty sending through the website, you may send the
information to kbazile at sbpg.net.

Please monitor the news for additional information. Updates also will be
posted on the parish website at www.sbpg.net.


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