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Irked by BP, Gulf of Mexico towns mull Plan B to halt oil spill

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is drafting his own plan with parish leaders to combat the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The goal is to build a 'second line of defense' to protect vital wetlands.

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“We’re putting up a second line of defense now, trying to keep the oil out of these fingers of wetlands that are so important to our wildlife and seafood industry,” says Plaquemines Parish president Billy Nungesser.

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In the Gulf, booms have been deployed around brown pelican nesting areas in the Delta National Wildlife Refuge and the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, says Tom MacKenzie, an officer with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Everything is being done to protect priority items and priority areas,” says Mr. MacKenzie. “On Breton Island alone we have 1,200 nests. Of course, booms can fail because of wind and waves, so we have worked with BP to put our rescue and rehabilitation response in place.”

As the oil spill crisis entered its 12th day, Jindal continued his criticism of BP at a press conference in Baton Rouge.

“I’m certainly worried that the booms as they’re currently deployed are not effective,” said Jindal, who on Friday declared a state of emergency and requested activation of the Louisiana National Guard. “I’ve shared my concerns that BP’s current resources are not adequate to meet the challenges we face, and I’ve encouraged them to seek more help the federal government and others.”

The view from Plaquemines Parish

In Plaquemines, parish president Mr. Nungesser moved forward with his plan to use two jacked up barges stationed just offshore as staging areas to distribute oil booms as the slick approaches, while confusion reigned among local residents over BP's Vessel of Opportunity program, which will pay fishermen to deploy booms.

Few local fishermen have to date been used. Hundreds are waiting for their hazardous materials handling certification so they can begin work. At lunchtime in front of the Riverside Restaurant in Venice, several fishermen scoffed at BP’s proposal to pay them $1,500 a day for use of their boats.

“That’s chump change as far as I’m concerned,” says commercial fishermen Jimmy Miller. “I can make $10,000 a day during fishing season. Fifteen hundred will barely cover my expenses.”

Others believed that a liability waiver they were asked to sign to enroll in the program would forfeit their rights to sue the company for losses they’ve suffered from the oil spill.

“You don’t sign any document like that until you have a lawyer look it over,” said fisherman Wendell Barrios, a lifelong resident of Plaquemines. “As long as they’ve got this, you won't see my boat out there.”

IN PICTURES: Louisiana oil spill