A look at oil clean-up efforts in Terrebonne Parish

by Brandon Richards bio | email

COCODRIE, LA (KPLC-TV) – The U.S. Coast Guard said progress is being made in Terrebonne Parish as the oil spill clean-up continues.

"Significant amounts [of oil] came in to Terrebonne Parish in some of the marshlands about three, four weeks ago," said Petty Officer John Miller, a U.S. Coast Guard Spokesman. "It's largely gone. You can see sheen, occasionally."

Terrebonne Parish did not receive anywhere close to the amount of oil marshlands to the east did, but the Coast Guard said the clean-up efforts there is proof that crews can make progress elsewhere.

About 740 skimmers, most of them local commercial fishermen, spend 12 hour days in the marshlands working for BP.

"It's a long day. It's not glamorous work," said Miller. "A lot of it is very repetitive work. It's extraordinarily hot work and messy work."

Clean-up crews are using three strategies to clean up the oil, deploying containment boom, absorbent boom and they are relying on nature itself to do the rest.

"There are microbes that exist naturally in the water, in the marsh grass and what they do is break down the hydrocarbons that compose oil into carbon dioxide into water," said Miller.

Meanwhile back on the shore, residents, particularly local fishermen, can't help but feel fearful of what the future will bring.

"I won't say it's a catastrophe, but it's pretty bad," said Chris Griffin, a local fisherman. "We prepare for hurricanes. We know what to do before a hurricane, but this…nobody was prepared for it."

The local BP claims office said it processes an average of 50 to 60 claims each day. The office opened a few weeks after the oil spill.

"It's our job and our goal to try and minimize that impact," said Bob Warren, an administrator in the local BP Claims office. "We can't undo it, but we can clean it up."

With meteorologists forecasting Tropical Storm Alex to remain well west of the spill, the Coast Guard expects the progress in the Terrebonne Bay area to continue.

"We've been able to make a lot of head way. So this is a small success story," said Miller. "There's been some progress made. This is typical of what's going to happen else where."

The residents of Terrebonne Parish and throughout the Gulf Coast certainly hope that's true, since many of their livelihoods depend on it.

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