Military helicopters drop sandbags as oil spill cleanup efforts continue off Louisiana
Blackhawk military helicopters began dropping sandbags along the Louisiana coastline Monday, as oil spill cleanup efforts continued.
(Page 2 of 2)
In Grand Isle, at the tip of the Louisiana boot, a small army of heavy machinery — civilian and military dump trucks, Army jeeps and Hummers, front-end loaders and backhoes — scurried to fortify a breached section of beach. National Guard helicopters had dropped sandbags on the breach, and later piles of dirt were being pushed together to make a dam, keeping oil from reaching the marshes.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Louisiana oil spill
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
As the sandbags plopped in place, workers farther inland used pumps and other structures to divert fresh water from the Mississippi River into the marshlands, hoping it would help push back the oily salt water lapping at the coast. The floodworks had been installed to help rebuild Louisiana's shrinking wetlands by injecting sediment-rich water from the river.
"We're trying to save thousands of acres of marsh here in this area, where the shrimp lay their eggs, where the fin fish lay their eggs, where the crabs come in and out," said Chett Chiasson, executive director of the Greater Lafourche Port Commission. "We're trying to save a heritage, a way of life, a culture that we know here in recreational and commercial fishing."
BP — which is responsible for the cleanup — said the spill has cost it $350 million so far for immediate response, containment efforts, commitments to the Gulf Coast states, and settlements and federal costs. The company did not speculate on the final bill, which most analysts expect to run into tens of billions of dollars.
Above the oil leak, waves of dark brown and black sludge crashed into the support ship Joe Griffin. The fumes there were so intense that a crew member and an AP photographer on board had to wear respirators while on deck.
The blowout aboard the rig, which was being leased by BP, was triggered by a bubble of methane gas that escaped from the well and shot up the drill column, expanding quickly as it burst through several seals and barriers before exploding, according to interviews with rig workers conducted during BP's initial, internal probe. The exact cause remains under investigation.