Oil spill cleanup on barrier islands suspended


GULF OF MEXICO — Cleanup from the BP oil spill on Mississippi’s barrier islands will take a break March 1 so as to not disturb the nesting areas for shorebirds and turtles.

Dan Brown, superintendent of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, tells The Mississippi Press that cleanup will resume Aug. 15.

“Once nesting season is done for the shorebirds, they will start back up again. There is a possibility that if we can identify sections of beach where there are no solitary nesting birds and in those areas where there are no nests, and if they discover oil in the volume that needs to be picked up, they may be able to get some crews out there.

“But, for the most part the effort that has been ongoing is largely to stop until mid-August when the birds are done nesting.”

Brown said workers have removed a lot of oil from the barrier islands of Petit Bois, Horn, West Ship, East Ship and Cat. He said there still more there.

Brown said the cleanup of the barrier islands creates some difficulty for workers.

“They can only get out here by boat and they can’t get out when the weather creates too high of seas. It presents a lot of challenges,” he said.

Derwin Henley, Mississippi area operations manager for BP, said about 750 people are working on the beach cleanup effort in Mississippi with 650-700 assigned to the barrier islands. About 80 boats and barges are being used in the cleanup.

The numbers are expected to drop to about 100 when work is halted in March.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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