Berms a Bust, Jindal Busted – Says Report

berm construction on Louisiana coast

Berm construction on Louisiana coast (Dec 2, 2010) during a SouthWings flight with pilot Tom Hutchings - "$220 million for a spill response measure that trapped not much more than 1,000 barrels of oil is not a compelling cost-benefit tradeoff"

Thursday AP reported on a report released by the staff of the presidential commission investigating the April 20th BP oil disaster quoting, “miniscule” was the amount of oil recovered from the ridiculously over-priced berms being built (present tense – as of two weeks ago when I left the Gulf Coast they were still in full construction – photos here) along the Louisiana coast.  The commission called the project “underwhelmingly effective, overwhelmingly expensive.” That was the opening volley in what may expose one of the two biggest boondoggles of the BP disaster.  (The other being use of the toxic dispersant COREXIT.) The AP story goes on,

“Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered the berms built over the objections of scientists and federal agencies — and secured money from BP to do it — out of frustration over what he saw as inaction by the Obama administration. During the crisis, Jindal boasted that the sand walls were stopping oil from coming ashore, and the idea proved popular in Louisiana.

In its stinging report, however, the commission, appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the spill, called the project “underwhelmingly effective, overwhelmingly expensive.” Still, the panel did concede that the sand might ultimately prove helpful in Louisiana’s long-term effort to restore its badly eroded coastline.”

As expected Governor Jindal, caught with his hand in the BP cookie jar, vehemently disputes the commission’s assessment –

“This report is partisan revisionist history at taxpayer expense,” the governor said in a statement. “The report’s assertion that the berms did not pass the commission’s ‘cost benefit analysis’ is insulting to the thousands of people whose way of life depends on the health of our working coast.”

Continuing the New York Times reported, “By october, about 10 miles of berms had been built” and as the commission staff reported, “$220 million for a spill response measure that trapped not much more than 1,000 barrels of oil is not a compelling cost-benefit tradeoff.”

The NYTimes article goes on to quote Garret Graves, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s leader of the sand berm project and the director of the Louisiana Office of Coastal Activities, insisting that the berms had worked, “A number of photographs, surveys and interviews suggest that the berms were successful at stopping oil.”

Mr. Graves, I have a number of photographs – hundreds actually – that illustrate the opposite,  and can introduce you and Gov. Jindal to several folks you can interview who will show you, categorically, that the berms are a disaster.

While the commission’s report blasted the berms projects, they continue at this hour.  From Louisiana to Dauphin Island Alabama sand continues to be dredged and pumped along the coast as heavy machinery push sand and flatten it into a wall that will raise the ire of the Gulf coastal hydrology and piss off the first major hurricane of the 2011 season.

AP updated report

Additional Reports on Bloomberg, Washington Post & NPR

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