GRAND ISLE, La. – Workers combed the beach on Elmer’s Island in Jefferson Parish Monday, cleaning up oil that washed ashore over the weekend. State and federal officials began testing it, trying to determine the source of the oil.
Almost a year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Grand Isle and Elmer’s Island residents experienced a bit of deja vu.
“When it first happened, I’ll be honest with you, they were very concerned. I got a lot of calls and people thought, you know, here we go again,” said Grand Isle Volunteer Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson.
He and parish leaders flew over the area Sunday and spotted a sheen on the water two miles off the island.
“We found what they call wind roves, light sheening, rainbow sheening, kind of emulsified. It reacts with the surf, kind of like a protein mousse, they call it,” Chaisson said.
The U.S. Coast Guard laid fresh boom Monday, both hard and soft, to protect three key cuts into the marshes. It’s an area that Chaisson said the massive BP oil spill never touched.
“We fought very hard during the whole spill to protect what we could and we accomplished something here and we don’t want to lose it. That’s the most important thing,” he said.
Jefferson Parish leaders called in the Coast Guard to handle the incident. They used the same command out of Houma that handled the BP clean up last year.
“It’s definitely a hydrocarbon. It has an odor and the characteristics of oil in some of those areas,” said Coast Guard Commander Mark McManus, commanding officer of the Marine Safety Unit in Houma.
More than 50 workers scoured the beach with shovels and plastic bags Monday.
“The primary oiled areas were on Elmer’s Island and Fouchon Beach,” McManus said.
State wildlife and fisheries agents said they began “fingerprinting” samples of the sheen in the Gulf of Mexico and from the beach on Elmers Island to find out if it’s residual oil from the BP spill, or another source.
Chaisson and McManus said there’s no more oil washing ashore on Grand Isle, and what is already there is weathered.
“I think it’s well under control,” Chaisson said.
Wildlife and fisheries expects LSU researchers to have the test results completed by Tuesday.