Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Sierra Club Delta Chapter Volunteers Conduct Gulf Coast Surveys

Sierra Club Delta Chapter and Water Sentinals volunteers have started a program to make regular on site observations of the Louisiana gulf coast in response to the approach of oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Our first trip out was on May 16. We put Harold Schoeffler’s 21 ft boat in the water at Intercoastal City and went out through southwest pass just west of Marsh Island to walk the beach at Chenier au Tigre. We then returned to Marsh Island to walk the beach on the southwest side of the island. On May 30 an expanded expedition of volunteers returned to walk Marsh Island, Chenier au Tigre, and the gulf beach east of Freshwater Bayou. Observations reported from those visits include one localized occurrence of fresh oil on shoreline vegetation at Chenier au Tigre.

Our objective is to go to coastal areas accessible by automobile or by boat and conduct walking observations of beach and coastal areas that may be affected by the BP oil disaster. We will not be cleaning birds or animals, or deliberately contacting oil. Presence of oil and/or distressed animals will be photographed and reported for treatment by appropriate authorities. Background numbers of normally beached dead animals and birds will be recorded during surveys conducted before the oil reaches these shorelines. When it occurs we will report presence of oil sheen on water, black oil, weathered oil, or tar balls on water, shoreline or in the marsh using GPS or known location coordinates. Our outings will be conducted once every two weeks or more often as the situation develops. A two mile section of shoreline is walked at each location.

We have established a water and/or oil sampling protocol on the advice of the LSU Energy Coast and Environment Laboratory. Information on how to take samples is reviewed for each outing. Containers will be provided by the Delta Chapter. Samples of oil can be analyzed by GC/MS to establish identity with oil from the BP well. Sampling is restricted to circumstances which can yield the highest information value. All appropriate personal protective and safety measures will be employed.

The Delta Chapter hopes to expand the volunteer coastal monitoring network to other areas of the coast that are being affected or that may be affected by the oil disaster. Persons interested in going out with us can send an email with “Gulf coast walking survey” in the subject line to We are looking for experienced boaters and many volunteers to help sustain and extend the program.

Woody Martin, Chair
Sierra Club Delta Chapter
June 1, 2010

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