As the berms turn part three: Jindal's "Dutch Treat" not working out. Dutch dredging company Van Oord says Jindal is all wet.

Folks, at the true extent of Bobby Jindal’s sand berm boondoggle comes to light Team Jindy is circling the wagons as hard questions are being asked. My last post on this topic was linked over at and it stimulated an interesting discussion. This much is clear after reading some of the commentary.  If Bobby Jindal passes gas and says it smells like lavender there is a segment of the populace that will buy in no questions asked. There is not much any of the rest of us a do for that group except show some patience and understanding. Meantime lets add some color about how the sand berm scheme came about and what some of the participants are saying now.

First off let’s begin with Dutch company Van Oord, a huge dredging company that had an angle on making some money off the oil spill in building some massive berms to “shorten the coastline”.  I’ve embedded their May 4, 2010 power point presentation to Scribd:

[scribd id=35125073 key=key-ip7frn6drt4rw2nqr1g mode=slideshow]

Next up is Kyle Graham, a Jindal political hack who did a Powerpoint presentation pushing the sand berms on June 16th where he credited Van Oord on page 16:

[scribd id=35125067 key=key-1b8lja3hnfppe4lnjbus mode=slideshow]

Now leaving aside for a second how complete self-serving it is for dredging companies to propose oil spill solutions that involve massive amounts of sand dredging without much though as to the impact on the local ecosystems we need to visit with American Public Media’s Stephen Beard for his story filed from the Netherlands last Tuesday for NPR’s Marketplace which has some quotes from Van Oord about Jindal and his sand berms:

Van Oord, specialists in marine and civil projects.

Van Oord based in Rotterdam is one of the world’s biggest dredging companies. It offered to build a massive sand dune or berm to protect Louisiana’s marshlands from the oil. The company was rebuffed. American contractors are now working on the berm.

Bert Groothuisen of Van Oord is not impressed with their work.

Bert Groothuisen: The top width is 20 foot. Only.

Beard: And that’s too little in your view?

Groothuisen: We had 300 foot. That’s the sort of difference.

Beard: You think their dune, their berm, is not going to stand up to the tide?

Groothuisen: Definitely not. One little storm and the berm is gone.

Groothuisen believes that his company’s plan was rejected out of pure protectionism. And that other offers of Dutch help were rejected out of misplaced American pride.

The problem with stealing someone elses idea is making sure all the idea is stolen, not just the part that makes your political cronies happy. That said Beard’s story had on comment left on it that cut through all the BS:

I was bemused to hear a completely unchallanged claim from the Dutch company Van Oort (sic) that a giant sand dune would save the Gulf of Mexico. When I lived in Holland, also known as the Low Lands, the country had almost no wetlands left. It did have canals. But instead of wetlands, it has performed a feat of amazing engineering and will, and buffered all its ocean coasts with huge sand dunes. It’s true, these dunes have worked for Holland. But Louisiana is not a land of tulips and canals. Instead, the wetlands in Louisiana are critical to that state’s ecology and economy. As NPR stories have frequently pointed out, it’s reasonable to assume that creating a new barrier off the Louisiana shore would increase the power and destruction of powerful winds and tides, and destroy even more of Louisiana’s wetlands. You do need to provide some context to the company’s claims.

Even so it appears Van Oord and Deltare gave Bobby Jindal the cover he needed to go dutch to the BP oil spill open checkbook party. I wonder what these so called conservatives that blindly support GOPers like Jindal would say if this were a trial lawyer shaking down a large company to no good end except the enrichment of a select few good ol boys?

Speaking of Jindal and the sand berm boondoggle, retired coastal scientist Len Bahr continues to reveal the environmental damage done over at the Louisiana Coast Post. In today’s installment we find the dredge contractor at Barateria Bay built a mud berm near Grand Terre Island. Len explains:

At Grand Terre Island we nosed into a roughly four-foot high berm that totally cut off and enclosed a former inlet, forming an estuarine impoundment of indeterminate but significant size (~50 acres?). This project, shown in Figure 1, was built (from clay, not sand) with a drag line and bucket dredge, creating an adjacent estuarine borrow pit. How in Hell’s name did the contractor get a permit for this travesty from the Corps of Engineers – or could it have been constructed illegally sans permit?

None of us could conceive a purpose for this enclosure that was (temporarily) preventing tidal exchange with the surrounding estuary. I say temporarily because, although the internal part of the barrier sloped gradually to the waterline, the open water face had already been undercut by wave action and had slumped, forming a vertical eroded face, clearly unable to withstand even mild storm conditions.

Finally Len, Editilla and many others have also linked Times Picayune Outdoor Editor Bob Marshall who wrote a great piece on Jindal and the local gang over Jefferson Parish way placing politics over the environment in the oil spill.  Here is a snippet:

……misinformation is in keeping with the governor’s response to this disaster, which has often been a mixture of diversion, fur coat attitude and panic — all of which is doing terrible long-term damage to our chances of survival on this starving delta.

Let’s start with that claim about the rocks.

The governor knows full well that since the day the rock idea was broached by Jefferson Parish politicians, the foremost authorities on Louisiana’s coastal ecosystem have come out against it. These are not Washington bureaucrats. They are men and women who have long lived and worked in coastal Louisiana; many of them are natives. They have spent their lives becoming expert on how the system functions, why it has been crumbling and what must be done to save what is left.

The first to raise the alarm was Kerry St. Pe, a coastal scientist who heads the Barataria Terrebonne National Estuary Program. He grew up fishing and hunting in Port Sulphur. That’s a long way from D.C.

Rock on Bob!

Time to end the sand berm boondoggle.


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