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Chandeleur sand berm segment shrinking like a wool sweater in hot water!

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by Len Bahr, PhD*

If a single picture is worth 1,000 words this 3-picture 378-word post is short on verbiage but long on information.

Regular readers of LaCoastPost know that I have long been challenging the wisdom and effectiveness of constructing artificial sand berms for the specific purpose of intercepting intruding oil. I’m far from alone in this controversy and all the scientists with whom I have spoken share my concerns. For example, see the article by Amy Wold in the July 11 The Advocate, which describes the decision to build the sand berms as driven more by politics than science.

In terms of specific criticisms, I have predicted that the berms will: (1) squander limited sand resources; (2) increase the depth and reduce the friction of the bottom profile; (3) increase the erosive power of tidal exchange; (4) steal dollars from and interest in less dramatic but more effective measures; (5) exacerbate the ongoing tension and lack of cooperation between federal and state agencies; (6) inject political overtones in what should be objective technical discussions; (7) jeopardize the credibility of the overall mission to protect and restore the Mississippi River delta; and (8) – most telling – fail to actually reduce the risk of oiling local marshes.

My final (9th) criticism and prediction is that these artificial sand ridges, planned in a science vacuum, will not survive the 2010 hurricane season. This is ironic in that the time required to construct them extends well beyond the hurricane season. Hopefully, the source of the oil will be shut down long before the sand berm project is complete. This makes the aggressive selling of the project suspicious and suggests a hidden motive involving massive dredging contracts.

With respect to the short life expectancy of artificial sand berms, examine the following three successive aerial images of ‘progress’ in constructing the first segment of sand berms along the northern section of the (submerged) Chandeleur Island chain. The photographs were taken from approximately the same location and altitude, looking from south to north. I’m not at liberty to credit the source of the photos but I can verify their authenticity.

These sad and shocking images document the waste of enormous resources and time. It’s very hard to resist the temptation to say, “I told you so.”

*Founding editor (leonardbahr@gmail.com)

Photo taken 6.25.10

Photo taken 7.2.10

Photo taken 7.7.10

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Doubts Persist on Gulf Sand Barriers - NYTimes.com - [...] particular, the remnants of Hurricane Alex, which swept into the Gulf of Mexico in early July and caused serious …
  2. For Jindal, it’s better to be lucky than accountable | The Lens - [...] the exact failure that many scientists predicted and feared. The construction of the first berms failed spectacularly, washing away …
  3. Restoring the Louisiana Coast « Quinta Scott’s Weblog - [...] with a discussion about where the sand could come from and how hard it is to come by. Len Bahr …
  4. Bobby Jindal’s “barrier islands” Are Washing Away | All In One Boat - [...] erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army …
  5. Bobby Jindal’s “barrier islands” Are Washing Away | The Ruth Group - [...] erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army …
  6. With Gulf oil flow halted, a grim damage assessment begins | Jay Bookman - [...] two photographs, taken near the Chandeleur Islands, demonstrate what they meant. The first, showing a berm largely if not …
  7. Bobby Jindal’s “islands” already crumbling « The Young Progressive - [...] All three images were first published yesterday by coastal scientist Leonard Bahr on his blog, LACoastPost.Bahr, a former researcher …
  8. Let Not the Sands of The Gulf Ruin Your Political Calculations | NOLA DEFENDER - [...] with pictures. Former coastal adviser to the governors (and coastal scientist) Len Bahr has these overhead shots of the …
  9. The BRAD BLOG : 'Green News Report' - July 15, 2010 - [...] Chandeleur sand berm segment shrinking like a wool sweater in hot water!: These sad and shocking images document the …
  10. Wonk Room » Bobby Jindal’s ‘Barrier Islands’ Are Washing Away - [...] erosion, with heavy equipment sinking into the ocean. Photographs released by Louisiana scientist Leonard Bahr and the US Army …
  11. The Incredible Shrinking Berms | oilspillaction.com - [...] look good for berm supporters…an eroding monument to wasted time and money. See for yourself: http://lacoastpost.com/blog/?p=25001 Send to [...]
  12. Drain Clogs – 07-13-2010 | Politisink - [...] the first storm. And the company that was hired to build them was Jindal’s number 3 donor! More …
  13. Jindal"s Folly: Sand Berms Washing Away..... - Southern Maryland Community Forums - [...] time. It’s very hard to resist the temptation to say, “I told you so.” More at: Chandeleur sand …
  14. Bobby’s berms already washing away - Online Political Blog - [...] to Len Bahr, a former LSU faculty member who posted these photos, they were all taken from roughly the …
  15. Liberty and Justice for All! » Blog Archive » Jindal’s plan fails - [...] So not only has Jindal dredged from our existing natural barrier islands making us more susceptible to storm surges,  …
  16. Coast Guard stops oil sucking barges from doing their jobs - Page 2 - TideFans.com - [...] Chandeleur sand berm segment shrinking like a wool sweater in hot water! | LaCoastPost Progress pics: 6.25.10 …

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