[StBernard] Coastal Parish Presidents meet with Coast Guard & BP officials in Houma

Westley Annis Westley at da-parish.com
Thu Sep 2 07:56:20 EDT 2010

Coastal Parish Presidents meet with Coast Guard & BP officials in Houma

Transition plans for all coastal parishes approved

A meeting was held at the Deepwater Horizon Response Incident Command Post
in Houma, LA Wednesday afternoon. This was a follow up meeting with the 11
coastal parish presidents including St. Bernard Parish President Craig
Taffaro, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, BP's Chief Operating Officer Mike
Utsler and Federal On-Scene Coordinator Admiral Zukunft. The purpose of the
meeting was to finalize the transition plans for the coastal parishes, plans
which define which activities and resources will remain in place until the
well is completely dead and coastal Louisiana is through hurricane season.
As a result of the meeting all parish transition plans were finalized and
agreed to by the parishes, Coast Guard and BP.

"This is a big step forward from where we were on these transition plans,"
Governor Jindal stated at a press conference following the meeting Wednesday
afternoon. "We shouldn't be worried about resources being taken. Now we've
gotten an agreement with the Coast Guard on the transition plan that
requires explicit consultation with the parishes."

"Today was a productive meeting," St. Bernard Parish Craig Taffaro said. "We
have come to the point where local involvement is supported and recognized
in the operations of this incident. One of the things that have come out of
the continued meetings is that we are in a transition. We have committed to
continue monitoring throughout this hurricane season for any unexpected oil
and we will continue the efforts in the restoration of our coast."

Taffaro also addressed the recent threatened shutdown of operations at
Hopedale base due to unpaid invoices on behalf of BP. "On a local level,
Admiral Zunkunft has assured me that operations at the command post in St.
Bernard Parish will continue despite difficulties with the payment process
in Hopedale. BP has released over 1 million dollars to Amigo Enterprises
today and hopefully that will help to keep operations established in

Taffaro also stated that Ken Feinberg, the administrator of the $20 billion
dollar claims fund set up for those affected by the disaster, has been asked
to revisit the claims process currently in place. The new claims process
under his management was put into effect on August 23rd, replacing the BP
claims process. Feinberg has made some aggressive claims in regards to the
speed in which claims would be paid and level of documentation needed, which
haven't necessarily panned out over the past couple of weeks. "Many of these
people will transition from oil spill work back to fishing, which is in its
own transition. This is a complicated issue and has many layers," Taffaro
said. "The claims process will be critical until the market is established
to supplement the local fishermen. It's a complicated process but as we
continue to connect the dots we'll move forward with our progress."

Governor Jindal also spoke of the claims process after the meeting, stating
that there are uncertainties regarding the draft protocols for the final
payments being offered to claimants. "We want to make sure that Louisiana
citizens don't prematurely give up their rights under this final draft
protocol. As written today, the draft protocol makes them give up rights
they have under federal law."

Seafood testing was a hot topic of discussion at Wednesday's meeting.
Taffaro says that many St. Bernard fishermen would like to get back to work.
A comprehensive and through seafood testing program with an effective
marketing plan would give them the confidence needed to provide the nation
with some of the best seafood out there. The market is depressed," Taffaro
said. "We have to show the nation it is safe and the distributors can go
back to supporting the Louisiana seafood market."

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