BAY JIMMY, La. – A flotilla of Wildlife and Fisheries boats sped into Bay Jimmy at the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Plaquemines Parish, passing flocks of white pelicans, some still coated in oil.
“We’ve got four white ones that’s got oil we’ve been trying to catch for the last couple of days,” said Wildlife & Fisheries agent Mark Castille.
Agents say miles of southeast Louisiana shoreline has large patches of grass that are dead, everything coated by black oil.
But when he saw no cleanup crews present, Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser was infuriated.
“This is the biggest coverup in the history of America,” fumed Nungesser. “We got a plan, you signed off on it. Yeah, we begging for help.”
“Look at the consistency of this oil oozing out of the marsh here,” said Robert Barham.
Wildlife & Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham used his gloved hand to easily expose the still liquid oil just below the surface, worrying it will spread.
“Any oil that is still here will go into new areas,” Barham said. “And kill them.”
Barham said it is will be a continuing process until someone comes to clean it up.
A Coast Guard spokesman said cleanup crews are still experimenting to find the best marsh cleanup method.
But Coast Guard statements that the cleanup is a priority made Nungesser explode.
“No one is walking away,” said U.S. Coast Guard Commander Dan Lauer. “Clearly these are high priorities, but there are different phases in different areas accordingly.”
“Oh, it’s a priority, look at it,” was Nungesser’s angry response. “What is it eight and a half months later? Thanks God we’re not out here asking for ammo to defend this country. And this is a priority? Their priorities are wrong. They’re hoping we go away, we get tired.”
“For Parish President Nungesser to make that statement, and even Secretary Barham, they’ve been a part, they’re as trustees,” Lauer said in response.
But the concern for the head of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Plaquemines Parish President is making sure that areas with the thick, peanut butter style oil still present are not just ignored.
“This marsh is dead, this marsh is going in the sea,” said Barham.
Nungesser added: “And as the water comes in, we get a little thunderstorm comes in tonight, and takes this oil, those ponds you see far inland will have oil in it.”