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April 22, 2010

Louisiana prepares for pollution from rig sinking

Governor Bobby Jindal released the following statement today regarding the Coast Guard's most recent update on the oil rig explosion south of Venice:

"I spoke to Admiral Mary Landry with the U.S. Coast Guard a few hours ago and she said that while rescue efforts are still continuing to look for the 11 missing workers, it is believed that they might have been working close to the origin of the explosion.

"Our hearts are with the families of those still missing, and their families and friends continue to be in our prayers. We are a close-knit family in Louisiana and when our people are hurting like this, we all feel it. Thousands of our people work offshore and while we know there is always some risk involved, this type of accident is certainly one of the worst-case scenarios you can imagine."

On the impact of the explosion, Governor Jindal added: "Admiral Landry said that a second explosion on the rig early this morning caused the release of thousands of gallons of crude oil. While this situation continues to rapidly evolve, seepage of oil into federal waters off of our shores means we must plan for the possible effects here.

"GOHSEP [Governor's Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness] Director Mark Cooper activated the state's Crisis Action Team yesterday to begin monitoring any potential impact of this event. The Crisis Action team works with local and federal officials to offer support needed in emergency response efforts.

"There have been no requests made of the state at this time. However, I have personally offered any and all state assistance needed to Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser and Admiral Landry.

"We know the Coast Guard will be setting up a federal emergency response center in New Orleans today and GOHSEP officials are standing by to join that center for regular updates, as well as to offer state assistance. We already have GOHSEP officials on the ground in Plaquemines - they have been there since yesterday - and they will remain there for as long as needed to assist parish officials.

"In order to work ahead and examine the potential impact of this oil seepage on our state and our state waters, I have called for a meeting of our Unified Command Group (UCG) tomorrow morning. UCG is made up of State Police, DOTD, GOHSEP, Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife and Fisheries, and other agencies responsible for state emergency response functions. This meeting will also include a representative from the U.S. Coast Guard in order to have the most up-to-date information possible on the situation.

"At this time, all state agencies are reviewing their plans and what roles they play during an oil spill and what steps we would take should this emergency impact Louisiana's land and water. Obviously, our first priority remains the health and safety of our people. We will work aggressively to mitigate any negative impact this incident could have on our land, air and water. We are also planning for what possible impact this incident could have on our businesses and industry, as well as our wildlife.

"Additionally, GOHSEP is reaching out to Alabama, Mississippi and Texas today to begin coordinating with them in the event the those states become impacted by the seepage from this rig. We are also offering those states any support they may need from Louisiana."

The Governor's Office and GOHSEP will continue to give updates on state action taken in this emergency as more information becomes available.

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