Oil continues to wash ashore a month after rig plugged

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, LA (RNN) - Thousands of gallons of oil continue to wash up on Louisiana's coastline one month after the BP oil well was permanently sealed.

Officials in Plaquemines Parish, LA, one of the state's hardest hit areas, said more than 82,000 gallons of oil-water sludge has been collected off its coast at Jimmy Bay since Sept. 19 - the day the well was sealed.

The Parish includes Venice, the site where oil from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig first made landfall.

"I am not surprised that the oil is still washing ashore," said Councilwoman Marla Cooper, who represents Plaquemines Parish. "I get calls about more oil sightings daily. With the volume of oil that was spilled into the gulf, we all know it has to be out there and will eventually come ashore."

But what is surprising to another council member is the declining number of workers contracted by BP, even though large amounts of oil are still washing up. Another area of concern: Unemployed seafood industry workers are the ones being hired to do the dirty work.

"The big boys are gone," said Dr. Stuart J. Guey Jr. of District 4. "We're cleaning up our own mess."

John Tevich, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Taskforce, confirmed that many oyster farmers have now found employment through BP's clean-up efforts, and while this provided an income for some, many were unable to get a job with the oil company.

Outside crews and their vessels came to cash-in on the clean-up, causing "hardships and animosities" for those who remained unemployed.

But Tevich did say that losses claimed by farmers seem to be honored correctly.

"For the most part, what I'm hearing is that people are satisfied," he said.

Tevich said that for those not helping with the clean-up efforts, all work is on hold until these claims can be adequately processed.

A press representative from BP said that the oil company is continuing to do its part to help clean up the coastline.

"Working with the Coast Guard and other agencies, we continue to monitor for the presence of oil along the Louisiana coastline and in the marshes," said Todd Beyer, who works in the New Orleans Unified Area Command. "Any presence of oil is then assessed to determine the appropriate response."

But Beyer did not have a clear answer for why cleanup crews are shrinking in size if so much oil continues to come ashore.

"Oil cleanup crews in Plaquemines Parish work seven days a week, weather pending," Plaquemines Parish Media Specialist Kurt Fromherz said in a press release. "And nearly three months after the well was killed, still remove significant amounts of oil from the most inundated areas."

Fromherz's most recent data is from the Sept. 30 to Oct. 11 window. During those 12 days, 37,275 gallons of the oil/water mix were extracted from of Bay Jimmy. During the same period, crews picked up 10,244 bags of oily waste and tar balls from Parish waters and shores.

"The size of the cleanup crews for a particular area will be adjusted based on size and scope," Beyer said. "We will continue to be here and provide the appropriate response effort for as long as it takes to make it right."

Whatever the case, concerns linger about the oil's continued environmental impact.

"It may not be until next year or years to come that we really feel the extent of damage," Cooper said. "I am very concerned about the lasting environmental impacts as well as the impact it will do to our Gulf communities. I just hope that our communities can survive this disaster."

This news comes one week after the Obama administration announced that it was lifting the deep-water oil and gas drilling moratorium put in place after the BP oil spill disaster, a move Guey said was a no-brainer because so many jobs were at stake.

"Why don't we make sure everyone complies instead of just shutting them down?" he asked.

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