Heavy oil "blanket" hits Louisiana wetlands

VENICE, Louisiana (BestGrowthStock) – A blanket of heavy oil has washed ashore in Louisiana’s fragile marshlands, in the first significant heavy oil landfall from the Gulf of Mexico spill, state Governor Bobby Jindal said on Wednesday.

“The day that we have all been fearing is upon us today,” Jindal said after a boat tour to the southernmost point of the Mississippi river estuary.

“This wasn’t tar balls. This wasn’t sheen. This is heavy oil in our wetlands,” he told a news conference in Venice, Louisiana. “It’s already here but we know more is coming.”

Previously, officials had been reporting “oil debris” in the form of tar balls, or light surface “sheen” coming ashore in outlying parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

Jindal said Louisiana’s wetlands were “the Gulf’s nursery,” nurturing diverse wildlife and protecting the coastline against erosion.

He appealed to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit to allow the construction of 80 miles of sand levees to protect the Louisiana coastline from further damage.

That project, which would cost $350 million, has been delayed despite an intense effort by the state and Plaquemines Parish (county) officials to comply with the Corps’ requirements, added Jindal.

He said crews were ready to start building the network of sand levees as soon as permission was granted.

Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser said the sight of the oil and the delay in granting permission for the levees project affected him physically.

“Everything that that blanket of oil has covered will die. There is no way to clean it. … I am sick to my stomach right now,” he said.

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(Reporting by Matt Bigg; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Todd Eastham)

Heavy oil “blanket” hits Louisiana wetlands