My last day in Venice – just hours before heading to the airport after a week and a half on ground zero of the Gulf oil rig disaster – I stumbled upon breaking news at the Cypress Cove Marina.
Coming in off a morning boat trip out to the spill with NRDC senior scientist Gina Solomon where we saw more tar balls at an island in South Pass, we found a crowd gathered at the dock awaiting a press conference from Governor Bobby Jindal, the Plaquemines Parish President, and actor Stephen Baldwin.
I decided to stick around and see what the buzz was about – and was glad I did, for two reasons.
First, Governor Jindal made strong remarks about dispersants – publicly questioning their use and effectiveness at cleaning up the spill and echoing concerns NRDC has raised since the beginning. Instead of leaving the oil on the water’s surface where it could be cleaned up, he said the dispersants are hiding the oil in the water, out of reach. And they’re causing a troubling amount of tar balls to roll up on the island beaches marking the entrance to Louisiana’s wetlands. If we’re seeing them here, he said, he worried what it means for the thousands of miles of wetlands that line the state’s coastline.
(This photo is from an earlier press conference with Governer Jindal, but I'll upload footage from today's as soon as I can.)
It was reassuring to hear the Governor back up our concerns about dispersants, but this much we already knew. What was perhaps more surprising was the second bit of breaking news announced by Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser.
He announced they will be demoing a new filtration technology tomorrow – funded by none other than actor Kevin Costner and designed with his brother, who Mr. Nungesser said is a scientist. From what I understand based on Mr. Nungesser’s description, it sounds like a water filtration device that traps oil. Looking forward to more details as the emerge!
All in all, it was an eventful end to my last day here on the Bayou – leaving me with hope that people are continuing to come up with interesting alternative solutions and everything is on the table. Being here over the last week I’ve met people from various walks of life, and I’ve seen first-hand that this disaster will impact all of them. I'm hopeful the governor & federal government will continue to look for solutions unique to the Gulf’s ecology to help revive this important region of the country. Clearly this spill will have lasting effects for weeks, months and years to come. I know NRDC will continue our commitment to supporting local groups as the region tries to rebound.
This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.
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