Louisiana Barrier Island Project

The oil protection artificial barrier islands should be more then engineered berms!

With the partial approval to create of new islands to block the onshore flow of oil, these islands must also be part of the mitigation and restoration effort and not just a wall of sand to be contaminated and disposed of. I’m not advocating for a Dubai-esque extravaganza where the ‘island’ is shaped like the continents or a palm tree.

But these islands and berms need to be designed such that it increases habitat area for shore birds, marine mammals, turtles, fish, and aquatic vegetation. Theses new barrier islands (which could be 45 miles long if all segments are built) should be integrated into the wetland restoration efforts once the leaking well is plugged. The US Fish and Wildlife Service and several other agencies have similar opinions in the permitting process [pdf], but the implementation documents don’t seem to be heeding this advice.

For the ACE and other agencies, this is an amazing fast approval of the permits to dredge the what ever part of the ’92 million cubic yards of material over a six to nine month period to build temporary barrier islands’ that was approved. I’ll have to spend more time parsing the permit to figure out what was actually permitted, and if it truly will be $350m to $950m.

I’m shocked by the crude drawings accompanying the permit that don’t even quantify the length of each of the proposed islands. Since the state has already awarded the contract to the the Shaw Group per their press release, we can only hope that their expertise in maritime engineering will clarify and improve the project.




the public comments are downloadable here



4 thoughts on “Louisiana Barrier Island Project

  1. You know I found myself wondering when this project was first announced if there wasn’t a better more integrated design approach that could be taken beyond literally just piling up sand as a barrier. One hopes that they do think about the opportunities for wetland integration particularly given the multi year effort currently underway to restore said wetlands…

  2. Robert Young, a professor of coastal geology and director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University, cautions against building the berm. He states that ‘the proposal was so hastily written that no one has estimated its chances of success, or worked out the possibility of adverse consequences. There‚Äôs not even a clear, scientific rationale for the efficacy of the design.’


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