Nungesser says Corps has rejected state’s plea for dredged oil barriers


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will not allow land barriers to be built to protect the state’s coastline, Plaquemines Parish Billy Nungesser told The Lens today.

“They turned it down,” Nungesser said. “They denied the plan to do the barrier islands, so I don’t know, so we’ll have to come up with something else. We’re going to plan B, but I don’t know what plan B is.”

The project was heavily pushed by Gov. Bobby Jindal, who has said it’s the best way to protect the coastline.

Nungesser said he was given the bad news late Friday by Corps Col. Alvin Lee, who likewise advocated for the barriers. The new land masses, similar to levees, would collect oil before it reached fragile coastal wetlands.

Contacted Saturday, though, Lee said his agency is still evaluating the request and has not denied the necessary permit, though the approval of the entire plan is outside of his authority. The Corps is charged with evaluating such permit requests, which calls for bringing in massive amounts of dredged material from up to 100 miles away, to ensure they comply with the federal Clean Water Act.

Nungesser and Jindal want  a 90-mile sand barrier to block oil from infiltrating the marsh east of the Mississippi River. Some of that oil already has encroached wetlands in the Pass a Loutre area. The barrier island would prevent a deeper saturation level of oil as it becomes harder to contain.

“I’ve been lied to about pumping this sediment for the islands,” Nungesser said. “Not once has even so many environmentalists agreed on something – not one has stood up and said, ‘Don’t do this barrier island, the risk is too great.’ I think BP got to them.”

Lee said the entire decision is out of his hands.

“I’m the permit decision-maker,” Lee said. “If you’re asking about regulatory-permit authority under the Clean Water Act, we have not denied that permit. I don’t have any comment on any other denial or permits for this plan. We have nothing to do with whether the entire plan will be approved.”

Corp spokeswoman Amanda Jones said that the barrier island is “not a Corps project,” but a state project.

She said the agency is evaluating the plan under its emergency permit procedures. The state plan already has been greatly modified based on Corps comment. The Corps is now evaluating that modified plan, she said.

She doesn’t know why Nungesser said the Corp rejected the plan.

“We’ve been saying all along that it’s under evaluation, and no decision has been made,” she said. “I’m not sure why anyone has said otherwise.”

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  • ferngrrl

    Nungesser is angry and being close to irrational. What in the world would lead BP to “get to them?” How would BP benefit from denying this proposal? Come on, be real. And moving all this sand from another site may well simply create more problems. Something of this magnitude needs serious consideration from an environmental view–not just for the benefits but also for how it would effect the entire area and the surrounding waters.

    If this is such a brilliant plan, and if these berms would be such a great protection from other threats, and if so many environmentalists support it, why wasn’t it propsed before the spill?

    I’m not against it–I just don’t have any information about how it would affect the surrounding area, tides, and the borrow area. Get us that info so we can understand better.

  • ottomax

    1. the plan was proposed well before the spill. it has been part of a proposal for coastal restoration for years. the corps continues to push it to the back burner because of cost. this is not a new plan as it’s being made seem.
    2. if you were watching miles upon miles of your parish coastline killed, and no one doing anything about stopping it for over a month now you might get a little “irrational” too.
    3. “more problems”? what could possibly be more problematic than marshes beings coated in oil?
    4. “how it would effect the entire area and the surrounding waters.” – do you mean an area & waters covered in crude oil? if i have a choice i’ll take sand.
    5. tides would not be greatly affected as there are several openings in the berm to allow for tidal movement. the borrow area that would be used is an established borrow area, or material that is currently dredged from the mississippi river could be used.
    6. i am not against offshore drilling. i am however against this type of massive failure on the part of the federal government once again to fix a problem they had a great part in causing.

  • Roby

    They are wasteing time argueing over what to do and nothing is being done. This is the second time in 5 years the gov’t has left us hanging.
    Who cares about enviroment impact from dredging. They dredge and rebuilt levees down here all the time. Now when it would save our marshes it’s a big issue.
    Tell you what, go down to Venice LA and tell anyone down there that it’s too expensive to save the marsh or it might effect other areas. You know what the other places are? More marsh that will be gone if the oil kills the marsh grass.
    If we lose the grass we lose our land too. It washes away.
    You can’t come to LA practicing that same west coast tree hugging stuff. It doesn’t fly down here.


    Go get em’ Billy. I support you 300 % . I want you to do what is in the best interest of this parish. You have worked your tail off with this spill & I greatly applaud your efforts.
    No other elected official would do what you have done to save this parish. Please Please go out & build those berms.It will save our wetlands.
    There is no other place on earth like south Plaquemines Parish. You are our SUPERMAN & we need you to protect our metropolis.

    NUNGESSOR 2010