BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal said Monday that the state is concerned about oil giant BP's use of a chemical dispersant to thin the thousands of gallons of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico following a drilling rig explosion.
"They are doing a 24-hour subsea test application of dispersants," Jindal said during a news conference at Port Fourchon. "We've expressed, as a state, our concerns about these subsea dispersants. We acquiesced in today's test, but I know that the EPA administrator is meeting with LSU scientists today to discuss the state's concerns about the potential longterm effects.
Three of Louisiana's cabinet secretaries, in a letter sent to BP's chief executive over the weekend, also asked the company about the risks tied to the use of the chemical dispersant.
The state's health secretary, Alan Levine; environmental quality secretary, Peggy Hatch; and wildlife and fisheries secretary, Robert Barham, sent the letter, saying they were worried about the chemical's impact on the environment, fishing industry and public health.
They asked for details on the short-term and possible long-term health risks for people and wildlife and on BP's plans to track the chemical dispersant's effects on people, wildlife and the environment over time. They also questioned whether BP will pay to restore the wetlands and fisheries damaged by the dispersants.
"We just want to know what the effects are going to be to our fisheries," said Jindal. "After the oil's gone from the surface, what is this going to do the biological life cycle of the fisheries, the longterm health of our wildlife out there.
"We do want to make sure they've done those studies. We want to see the data, we want some assurances this won't do more damage in the long term to some very sensitive fisheries."
U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., who joined Jindal, said Louisiana was not getting adequate supplies of boom materials to block the oil and that he was pushing Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen to help get more.