more oil into the river

•Saturday, February 18, 2012 • Comments Off on more oil into the river

In the Times Picayune

A construction barge and a tank barge, towed by separate vessels, collided in the Mississippi River early Friday in St. John the Baptist Parish near Edgard, closing a portion of the river to traffic for most of the day and spilling about 10,000 gallons of Louisiana sweet crude oil into the water, the Coast Guard said. No injuries were reported, said Coast Guard sector commander and federal on-scene coordinator Capt. Pete Gautier. The cause of the collision remained under investigation.

Officials in St. Charles and St. John parishes closed drinking-water intake valves in the Mississippi River for much of the day but reopened them Friday afternoon. Gautier said officials were notified Friday at 1:58 a.m. that a construction barge being towed by the tug boat Alydar and an oil tanker barge being towed by the vessel Clarence W. Settoon had collided near mile marker 139, about 50 miles upriver from New Orleans. The tank barge suffered a gash in its portside hull about 18 feet by 5 feet wide and began dumping Louisiana sweet crude oil into the Mississippi River. “We don’t have a precise, exact amount of oil that’s spilled,” Gautier said. “We are estimating the amount of oil spilled in the water at somewhere less than 10,000 gallons. These estimates are based on the amount of product known to be in the tank before the incident. The exact amount of oil spilled will be determined over the next few weeks as we offload and get a better idea of the amount of oil that still remains on the barge.” The impacted cargo tank reportedly was holding 3,535 barrels, or 148,470 gallons, of crude oil, officials said.

Gautier said officials quickly moved the damaged barge into shallower waters close to the west bank to get the gash above the waterline. Oil spill response crews brought in booms to contain the spill, and a five-mile stretch of the river was closed to maritime traffic. Meanwhile, a light silver sheen of small to medium patches of oil impacting a two-mile stretch slowly moved down river. By late afternoon, Gautier said, the sheen had passed within a few miles of the Hale Boggs Bridge in Luling in St. Charles Parish. The most immediate concern, Gautier said, was to the water supplies in both St. John and St. Charles parishes, which closed off their water intake systems as a precaution. Officials in both parishes said there was an adequate supply of water in storage to meet the demands of the public and no oil was reported to have gotten into either parish’s water system. Gautier said the Coast Guard will likely allow the oil to disperse naturally.
“This is very light sweet crude,” Gautier said. “I think we can expect about 30 percent of the oil that has been spilled to evaporate within a few hours. And the river is running at high stage right now, at about 5 miles per hour. That’s going to create a lot of natural dispersion of the oil.

“We’ll see pocket of very light sheen and the sheen is very thin. Unless this oil presses up against something, a natural collection area, it’s really not anything we can recover.” Gautier said the weather system expected to move through the area late Friday and Saturday would help with the dispersing of the oil, but may hinder cleanup and recovery activities. He added that there has been no reported impact to any wildlife. “Any spill that occurs is a bad event and we respond aggressively to these things,” Gautier said. The river reopened late Friday to one-way traffic between mile markers 140 and 120. Southbound vessels will be allowed through until 6 a.m. on Saturday, at which time northbound vessels will be allowed to travel.

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remember our veterans today

•Friday, November 11, 2011 • Comments Off on remember our veterans today

If you have not paused at 11:11 this morning, please offer a moment of silence tonight at 11:11, or anytime today

In memory of my grandfathers, uncles and my dear father who have served our country so freedom may ring

Rising Tide VI

•Saturday, August 27, 2011 • Comments Off on Rising Tide VI

Just posted at NOLAFemmes, a review of RTVI

This year’s Rising Tide blogger conference was held at Xavier University in New Orleans. If you would like to read the events of the day, you can look on Twitter, hashtag #rt6 or @risingtide. New this year was an adjacent room hosting a tech school featuring several sessions on how to get the most out of your blogging and social media experience. Another great addition this year, the conference was webcast! The space at Xavier is one of the best yet, with plenty room to spread out, a myriad of vendors, and cool environs to participate in the event. The opening address by Sr. Monica Loughlin was a very warm welcome by the conference hosts, and Sr. Monica gave the audience a history of St. Katharine Drexel, the founder of Xavier, noting that she lived her life going against convention in order to achieve her vision, and that she would have been proud that a grassroots blogger assembly was being held on the grounds of her dream made reality, Xavier.

The first speaker was Richard Campanella, who spoke eloquently on the historical geography of New Orleans, and those implications on the current state of New Orleans’ neighborhoods. He has spent countless hours as a researcher gleaning information from local archives to write many books on the city. He presented a thorough picture of the city and surrounding regions and established a foundation of the relevance of New Orleans as a truly unique part of the country. The next presentation, the panel on social media and social justice promoted using social media to mobilize grassroots opposition to unjust legislation in state and federal politics. Moderated by Dr. Kimberly Chandler of Xavier University, it was a dynamic panel with good information on how to participate in social justice. Jimmy Huck who writes The Huck Upchuck blog, and follows Latino and immigrant issues in and around New Orleans presented issues concerning Latinos in New Orleans and stated that this demographic is much more plugged in than many people think and are able to participate in social media activism. One panel member noted that social media can also be used against the activists, with the case in point concerning the recent London Riots: pictures of rioters were posted on a website with a number assigned and people were asked to notify the authorities if they knew the individual in the picture. Scary thought indeed…

The lunchtime panel spoke on the Macondo/BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill that began April 20, 2010 killing 11 people. The panel reviewed the spill timeline, and Bob Marshall discussed the fact that the Minerals Management Service was “in bed” with Louisiana politicians and the oil companies and how it is virtually impossible to change any oil company policy to benefit the citizens of Louisiana and the environment where we all live. Anne Rolfes reported that the oil industry has an exponential number of accidents that are not reported. Drake Toulouse of Disenfranchised Citizen commented on the post-oil spill financial claims distribution mess that Ken Fineberg inherited, and how his promises of distributing checks within 7 days went unfulfilled. The delays wound up wearing people down so they just gave up and took a check, but unfortunately are still living with the disaster effects on their health and finances. All agreed that the American Petroleum Institute controls congress, therefore citizens have little control over this mess and we are all screwed because of that. It was also reported that any remaining monies from the 20 billion BP put into the GCCF fund would be returned to the company, instead of distributing it to people suffering from the spill. Bob Marshall said that he recently watched again the 1948 Louisiana Story movie and how so long ago there was no value on the swamps and wetlands, but now that we realize the wetlands destruction equates a loss of a way of life in Louisiana, it might be too little too late to save the wetlands.

After a delicious lunch by J’Anitas, David Simon the second featured speaker explored the conceptual background of his series Treme’. He presented the fallacies of logic, speaking specifically about “standing” and ad hominem arguments, the second in which a person uses an argument against the other person as opposed to the subject being argued between them. He noted that politicians frequently use the ad hominem fallacy of logic, such as in health care debates and other political discourse. He also posited that “standing” is the lamest way politicians diminish political discourse, using as an example the controversy over the demolition of a row of houses on S. Derbigny street that were featured in the poster of the first season of Treme’. Simon also noted that because he is not a New Orleans local, he got Treme’ right because he bluntly inserted himself into New Orleans situations that perhaps a local would not have ventured, caring nothing about “standing” for or against anyone or anything. Simon also cautioned the audience about the biotech development proposal slated for construction alongside the new LSU medical center, and how Johns Hopkins in Baltimore promised the same. Unfortunately a decade later, the empty dirt filled lots which were to be filled with new businesses and research buildings are still that, empty…

After Simon, a delightful and lively panel discussion on New Orleans Food was moderated by Jeffrey of the Library Chronicles. The panel talked about the miraculous post-Katrina recovery of the restaurant industry and the ensuing burst of food creativity as described by Todd Price. Rene Louapre who writes Blackened Out pointed out how there have been no New Orleans chefs participating on Bravo’s Top Chef series, and the reason probably is that New Orleans chefs in their 30’s have abundant opportunity to open restaurants in the city than anywhere else because of the storm and the abandoned food establishments just waiting to be put back into commerce. Chef Adolfo Garcia recalled how many chefs worked together after Katrina to help each other and mobilize restaurant re-openings because there were so many people in town that needed places to eat: first responders, contractors, insurance people and others who had money to spend and nowhere to dine. A lively discussion ensued about assigning the nomenclature of Creole to the current cuisine being served in town and the question arose: is New Orleans losing its food identity? Alex del Castillo talked about mobile food vendors, “taco trucks”, setting roots into brick and mortar restaurants that contribute to the eclectic mix of New Orleans creole cuisine. Chris deBarr of Green Goddess Restaurant had the most optimistic take on it all: in merging the varied cuisines of the different cultures of New Orleans (Italian, French, Caribbean, African, Vietnamese, etc.) the true identity of Creole cuisine is discovered by marrying local cuisines and cultures into great food.

Next was the presentation of the Ashley Morris Award, and this year’s recipient was Dedra Johnson of the G_Bitch spot blog. An extremely well deserved recipient, she tirelessly writes about the state of the New Orleans public school system. And finally, the exuberant Brass Band panel, hosted by Big Red Cotton discussing the history of and return after Katrina of New Orleans brass bands, closing out another wonderful Rising Tide conference. The TBC Brass band trumpeted another successful year and heralds the continuation and success of an inspiring event. Thanks to all the Rising Tide VI organizers, vendors and participants for making this year another memorable conference!

its not just oil

•Wednesday, August 17, 2011 • Comments Off on its not just oil

that is polluting our waters

Bogalusa paper mill admits fault as dead fish flow to Lake Pontchartrain
Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 10:30 PM
By Katie Urbaszewski, The Times-Picayune

The paper mill lnked to a substantial fish kill in the Pearl River system cautiously admitted responsibility Wednesday, as the trail of dead fish reached Lake Pontchartrain and a reservoir near Jackson, Miss., was opened in an attempt to flush the pollutants out.

Officials from the Temple-Inland plant in Bogalusa acknowledged that a mixture of pulp from the paper-manufacturing process and unspecified chemicals poured into the Pearl River late last week at levels exceeding the plant’s environmental permits and might have depleted oxygen levels in the Pearl and its tributaries.

Numerous species of fish and shellfish, in large numbers, have turned up dead in the Pearl River system since the weekend as a result.
With thoughts of last year’s massive BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico close at hand, government officials mobilized to coordinate a cleanup effort.

“This discharge is doing significant damage to St. Tammany Parish,” St. Tammany Parish President Kevin Davis said Wednesday afternoon.

“We need to assist our citizens whose livelihood depends upon our waterways. The Pearl River is a home to a complex ecosystem that supports fisheries, tourism and transportation.”

The Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation inspected the lake and spotted some of the same types of dead fish that have scattered the banks of the West Pearl River and adjacent waterways. However, because tests found that oxygen levels in the lake are still normal, foundation officials said the lake is probably not polluted.

Tides probably carried the fish into the lake, and so much more water passes through the Rigolets, which connects the West Pearl, Middle Pearl and East Pearl rivers to Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne, than the river that the discharge is less of a threat, said foundation director John Lopez.

‘Black liquor’ released
Officials are referring to the material in the water as “black liquor,” a byproduct of paper-making that has a high pH. Temple-Inland regularly uses acid to balance the black liquor’s pH before releasing the material into the river, which its permit allows it do, said Jeff Dauzat, an environmental scientist from the state Department of Environmental Quality.

But Temple-Inland discovered, even before it was released, that the black liquor was exceeding its permitted levels in the plant, said Jay Wilson, vice president of environment, health and safety at the mill.
The substance has moved about 45 miles from its source through the Pearl River system, Dauzat said. He said if tests from his department confirm that Temple-Inland is to blame for the fish kill, it will be the third time a fish kill has been traced to the plant, although previous incidents might have occurred before Temple-Inland took over operations there.

Wilson said Temple-Inland has not been blamed for any past fish kills to his knowledge. Dauzat could not say when the past fish kills happened.

Mississippi officials opened the Ross Barnett Reservoir on Tuesday night, and its usual flow of 200 cubic feet of water per second has been increased to 2,000 cubic feet per second, said Suzanne Parsons Stymiest, spokeswoman for St. Tammany Parish.

However, the reservoir is more than 100 miles upstream from where the fish began dying, and Dauzat said it could take weeks for the water to flush the pollutants out to the Gulf of Mexico.

The best short-term solution is to remove the dead fish from the river because decaying carcasses continue to deplete oxygen from the waterway, Dauzat said.

Temple-Inland has hired a private company to coordinate the initial cleanup, and on Wednesday, Davis negotiated with the company that the majority of the cleanup employees be hired from the affected areas.
Not only does this agreement help those who depend on the Pearl River for their livelihood, but it also ensures a better cleanup, Davis said.

“They know (the river) like the back of their hands and can really assist in the cleanup effort,” he said.

State of emergency
The state of emergency Davis declared for the parish Tuesday night remained in effect.

No one should swim, wade, fish or come in contact with waterways in the Pearl River watershed, the parish president warned. He also advises that no one eat, handle or collect fish or shellfish from those waters and that pets be kept from the water.

The Pearl River splits into three: the East Pearl River, which borders Mississippi; the West Pearl River, where the parish and the governor’s office have established a command center; and the Middle River. All include tributaries which make up the Pearl River watershed. Citizens should consider all of these bodies of water as contaminated, Stymiest said.

Davis said the company is absolutely taking responsibility for the fish kill “from a cooperation standpoint.” He said the mill is using its resources to clean up the river. As far as reparations go, “we decided we would discuss those issues at a later time. But I had to inform them as president that we believe they are the responsible party,” Davis said.

Gov. Bobby Jindal made harsher statements Wednesday.
“I made it very clear that we expect the company to clean up this mess, not only to make sure that it never happens again before they reopen the plant, but also that they’ve got responsibility to reverse the damage that has been done by this discharge,” Jindal said. “He (CEO of Temple-Inland, Doyle Simons) committed to me that they were going to do that. We are going to hold them accountable to that commitment.”

Jindal said Temple-Inland has made a commitment to pay its employees even while the mill is closed. Jindal also said there could be federal issues as well, including a possible investigation of violation of the Endangered Species Act.

Butch Gautreaux says goodbye

•Saturday, June 25, 2011 • Comments Off on Butch Gautreaux says goodbye

Cenlamar posts state senators Butch Gautreaux’s final speech – a must read since no one in MSM picked it up

Thanks Cenlamar

German Coast Farmers’ Market

•Saturday, June 25, 2011 • Comments Off on German Coast Farmers’ Market

A new picture post of the German Coast Farmers’ Market in Destrehan has been added over at NOLA Femmes, check it out!

okra and tomatoes

•Sunday, June 12, 2011 • 5 Comments

The latest dish I’ve tackled is okra and tomatoes. I consulted several cookbooks, and stuck primarily to the recipe found in Richard and Rima Collin’s The New Orleans Cookbook.

Since okra and creole tomatoes are in season right now, its the perfect time to make this dish. It can also be made year round, since most grocers carry frozen okra all the time. You can make it vegetarian, serve it as a side dish, or add sausage, shrimp, andouille, ham, tasso or any protein you like to make it a complete dish. It can also be served over rice. Here are the ingredients I used for this version:

Okra and tomatoes

2 pounds okra
6 creole tomatoes, washed, seeded and diced
1 1/2 onions, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped (save the green tops to add at the end)
2 jalapenos minced
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 pound cooked ham seasoning
1/2 pound tasso, diced
2 teaspoons creole mustard
salt, pepper, parsley, red pepper flakes to taste

Here are some of the ingredients

Wash off the okra

Cut off the tops

Then cut the okra into rounds

Cut the tomatoes and remove the seeds and “jelly”

Chop the ham and the tasso

Saute the onions until translucent, about 5 minutes

then add the okra to the onions – notice the ropes in the okra, so continue to cook it until the ropes are cooked off, about 15 minutes

Add the peppers and garlic and stir, cooking for 10 minutes

then add the tomatoes and mix well, cooking for about 5 minutes

Add the ham and tasso

and mix well

Add the secret ingredient, creole mustard

Cover, then cook for 30 minutes, adding the green onion tops the last 5 minutes

then enjoy

add some pecorino romano if you like!