Oil booms in dumpsterOn Grand Isle, Louisiana yesterday evening I witnessed National Guard troops take oil booms that just minutes before were laid out on the beach, and put them in a dumpster. The troops deployed no oil booms into the water; the booms were only out on the beach for about an hour.

I wrote last night about our first day in Grand Isle; we came to the fishing pier, which was still open and looked out over the beach into the gulf. As we arrived at the pier staircase, about a dozen workers in blue shirts and bright yellow vests drove out of the park while a half dozen people in National Guard uniforms in golf carts drove down the beach.

We walked down the pier and surveyed the oil residue beneath. A seagull picks on a decaying fish in an oil sheen. To our left there’s probably 200 yards of boom in the water around the bend of the island, but the bulk of the coastline has none. About 300 yards down the beach in the other direction, there’s about two dozen National Guard troops with backhoes, four wheelers, and some oil boom.

They laid out several rows of oil booms as we watched from the pier. About an hour after they laid it out, they went back and picked it all up. At the time, we thought it was odd that they would take time to lay out boom on the beach and then just put it back away.


We drive around the park and end up in the RV park, hoping to get someone to let us stand on their RV and view the military operation over the dune. ("To answer your question, not a chance in hell will you climb my RV.") I ask National Guard troops sitting at a picnic table if "Beach Closed" means the tops of the dunes are closed for viewing the operation. ("You can ask the five cops waiting for you on the other side.")

I pull into a parking space and Ivan and I talk about what to do. I turn my head and watch two National Guard members pull up their golf cart to a green dumpster. They unload big, orange oil booms one by one from the back of the cart, and throw them into the dumpster.

It’s unclear what purpose the operation on the beach was supposed to serve, and why it required dumping boom in dumpsters at the end. It could have been a training exercise for new troops for how to lay out booms; no one would answer my questions on the scene.

When we arrived at the park, we followed behind a flatbed army truck that had boom in what appeared to be a plastic wrap open on the back of the truck, so it’s not like dumpsters are the preferred mode of transportation for boom.

There was a satellite truck for a local ABC News station that was parked in front of the entrance of the dune operation. After we witnessed the booms being thrown into the dumpster, several people who appeared to be from a news crew in civilian clothes walked down from the other side of the dune and to the news truck. I wondered at the time if the boom was deployed on the beach for news crew b-roll, but have been unable to confirm or deny that either.

A diarist at Daily Kos provides a lesson in proper booming procedure, and comes to the conclusion that no visible booms out in the water are deployed properly. (Pardon the diarist’s French.)

Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA. Looks kinda involved, doesn’t it? It is. [...] You can prevent most, by far most of the shoreline from ever being touched by more than a few transient molecules of oil. Done fucking properly, a week after the oil stops coming ashore, no one, man nor beast, can ever tell there has been oil anywhere near that shoreline.

I couldn’t find any pics of fucking proper fucking booming from along the Gulf, because there aren’t any.

Oil is not coming towards Grand Isle in any quantity significant enough yet, at this part of the beach, for boom to have directed enough oil into catch basins such that the boom is useless and should be thrown into a dumpster. So why is anyone throwing out oil boom that could be deployed around Grand Isle?

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