Guard building coastal barriers to keep out oil
June 24, 2010
CAMERON, La. (June 24, 2010) -- Construction of 8.5 miles of wall barriers by the Louisiana National Guard's 225th Engineer Brigade continues in six areas along the coast of Cameron Parish in an effort to keep oil-tainted water from moving inland.
Guard members assigned to engineer battalions from the 527th headquartered in Ruston, La., 528th headquartered in Monroe, La., and 769th headquartered in Baton Rouge, La., are working together to assemble and fill the barriers that will stretch along Highway 82, one of the parish's main highways.
"We are working in six different sites along the coast and once the project is complete, there will be about eight miles of (barrier) laid out," said Capt. Jeffrey L. Giering, the commander of the 928th Sapper Company, 769th, and one of the project managers.
Giering said that though the oil is not currently coming on shore, it is important to build the wall now in order to protect more than 4,000 acres of marsh if the oil moves westward. More than 150 Soldiers are working on the month-long project.
Even though many of same Guardsmen helped build a similar barrier wall last month in Port Fourchon, La., the approach to building this barrier had to be altered to deal with the different terrain.
"In Port Fourchon, we were basically isolated on the beach and it was easier to maneuver through the sand," said Giering. "Here, we are working in soft, grassy areas only 30 feet from the main highway where traffic is a constant factor. We have to use tracked vehicles instead of the wheeled ones we used in Port Fourchon because they had a tendency to get stuck."
The barrier is made up from a multi-cellular wall systems manufactured from welded coated steel wire mesh and linked with vertical coil joints. Once erected, the units are filled with sand to form an effective barrier against possible oil encroachment.
"The (barrier) baskets are good because they can serve two purposes," said Staff Sgt. Clancy Kirk, of the 928th. "Their main purpose is to help keep oil from moving on the shore, but they can also serve as a surge protector when the water reaches high tide."
As with every mission given to them, the Guardsmen from all three battalions said they are proud to get another chance to help the state of Louisiana.
"I volunteered for this mission on day one," said Spc. Alan Stevens of the 769th. "Although we spend time away from family and friends, we know that this mission and all of the other missions we have done are important and we are here to do them correctly."
(Sgt. Michael L. Owens serves a journalist with the Louisiana National Guard.)