Cleaning Louisiana's coast: one year later

by Heather Miller

Officials are still complaining about cleanup efforts; local governments are spending BP money frivolously. The workforce that began the cleanup efforts of the BP oil spill in the Gulf included some 40,000 people in the wake of the disaster. Almost a year later, that number has decreased to 5,000, and state and parish officials remain concerned about the state of the coastline.

Garret Graves, director of the Governor's Office of Coastal Activities, told The Advocate that there is still "a lot of oil out there," including "the really black, thick" oil that is being combated by a team of about 1,300 people still cleaning the coast in Louisiana as of March 29. Louisiana has the largest number of cleanup workers still working to remediate, but Graves says there is still a lot of work to be done:
While the news media is no longer publishing or broadcasting images of birds smothered in oil, birds still get oil on them when they walk through oiled shoreline.

The work is not living up to the $100 million advertising campaign BP is running about "make it right," Graves said.

In addition to concern about the oil remaining in some marsh areas, there is also concern about oil mats - oil mixed with sand - that are submerged and, even when found, can be difficult to pin down.
And while Graves and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser continue to air their distaste for the oil giant and its cleanup efforts, another weekend article points out that local officials, including Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph and her spokesman, used BP money to buy iPads and other state-of-the-art equipment following the spill:
Randolph billed BP for an iPad, saying she needed it in addition to her parish-paid Blackberry to communicate with staff and other officials during the crisis. But she didn't buy the iPad until Aug. 26, a month and a half after the well was capped and several weeks after the federal government said much of the oil had been skimmed, burned off, dispersed or dissolved.

Lafourche Parish spokesman Brennan Matherne, who bought a new Dell laptop and accessories for $3,165, said working on the spill had worn out the computer he got just a year earlier for $2,700.
Read more on the cleanup efforts here and more on local governments' BP-funded shopping sprees here.