Senator Vitter says pressure must be kept on BP - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Senator Vitter says pressure must be kept on BP to finish cleanup


New Orleans, La. -- U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-Metairie, says BP is far from completing the cleanup along Louisiana's coast.

Vitter held a Senate field hearing at the Louisiana Supreme Court focusing on BP's response to the spill which continues to affect Louisiana. He says he is concerned that a proposed court settlement with BP could let the oil giant off the hook for the 2010 disaster in the Gulf.

More than two years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico off Louisiana's coastline and unleashed a torrent of oil from BP's well beneath the Gulf's surface, the state's shoreline remains a victim, according to officials.

"A lot of us feel that there's so much left to be done that's not being done," said Congressman Steve Scalise, R-Metairie.

Senator Vitter said BP's expensive public relations campaign does not match its actions.  "Over a year ago BP announced to great fanfare that it was committing a billion dollars early, up front to response efforts.  So far two projects, $60 million, are being worked on," Vitter said.

And the state says the oil from the April 2010 spill continues to hurt the environment.

"Just in a two-week period between September 7th and approximately the 25th, nearly 500,000 pounds of oil mats and tar balls were found and removed despite the fact that BP designated these areas as being clean," said Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana.

Jefferson Parish President John Young also testified. He said more oil hit lower Jefferson after Hurricane Isaac hit.  "Over 150 tons washed up in Jefferson Parish alone because of Isaac," stated Young.

Young also accused the Coast Guard of cutting BP too much slack.  "I think the Coast Guard can be much more proactive in holding BP's feet to the fire because once this settlement is reached, I feel like you do that whatever cooperation that we have, and believe me it's very little at this point from BP, will evaporate," said Young.

"The Coast Guard takes environmental response very seriously," said Coast Guard Captain Samuel "Duke" Walker, incident commander and federal on-scene coordinator for the Deepwater Horizon Response.

Walker said he is dedicated to the removal of all oil that can be recovered.  "Taking into account the net environmental benefit of recovery activities," said Captain Walker.

Graves said Louisiana is being discriminated against when it comes to monitoring to detect oil.

"There are daily beach patrols in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, daily patrols of golf carts and individuals looking for tar balls… Our shoreline is wetlands. You can't walk, it's turbid waters, it's dark bottoms, you can't see the oil up against the white sandy bottoms as in other states. Yet there's nothing going on to identity the oil that remains in our state," stated Graves.

There were also complaints that BP has not removed anchors for booms used during the early part of the cleanup. Young said it is a safety hazard for fishermen.

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