National Guard: Real heroes of oil spill response, Jindal says
The governor of the state of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal, and Army Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, observe firsthand oil suction operations on East Grand Terre Island, La., June 9, 2010.

GRAND TERRE ISLAND, La. -- During a visit here on Wednesday, Gov. Bobby Jindal got his first look at the vacuum barges being operated very successfully by the Louisiana National Guard.

"We would absolutely not be making the progress we've made today if it hadn't been for Guardsmen laying out tiger dams ... Hesco baskets, deploying these suction pumps on these barges, out there every day, helping us to fight this oil spill," Jindal told local reporters.

Guard officials said the vacuum barges are equipped with pumps that are connected to tubes that can be individually operated by Soldiers to collect oil up to a mile out in the gulf.

"This is Cajun ingenuity," Jindal said. "This is south Louisianians at our best to fight and protect our way of life."

On June 9, the Louisiana Guard received approval from the U.S. Coast Guard to field 10 additional vacuum barges bringing the total number approved to 13.

As demonstrated at operations at East Grand Terre Island, La., these vacuum barges are effective in removing oil from marsh and inland areas of Louisiana's coast, National Guard officials said.

The two vacuum barges currently in operation, one comprised of military float bridges and the other on a civilian barge, are recovering about 1,000 gallons of oil each per day. To date, the barges have collected more than 6,400 gallons.

The newly approved vacuum barges will be placed in coordination with parish officials and the Coast Guard at locations in Plaquemines, Jefferson, Lafourche, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes.

Guard officials said the need exists for more of these systems to remove oil from marsh areas as soon as spotting occurs.

Along with this mission, about 1,100 Louisiana Guard members are deploying sandbags, Hesco baskets and other coastal barriers to keep the oil from spreading into sensitive inland marshes.

Army Maj. Gen. Bennett Landreneau, the adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told reporters this mission is personal for his Soldiers.

"They live here in this state. They know this area. They have family here. They have a very close personal interest in doing everything they can," he said.

Army National Guard aviation units from Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Nebraska have also been deployed to help in the oil spill response along the Louisiana coast.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16