"AT PASS A LOUTRE, La. - A chocolate-brown blanket of oil about as thick as latex paint has invaded reedy freshwater wetlands at Louisiana's southeastern tip, prompting Gov. Bobby Jindal to step up calls Wednesday for building emergency sand barriers.
Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser led a flotilla of media to inspect the oil encroaching on remote wetlands lining Pass a Loutre, near where the mouth of the Mississippi River empties into the Gulf of Mexico.
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig disaster had been lapping at the coast before. But this was not the light rainbow sheen or the scattered tar balls seen in previous days.
Jindal, sitting at the edge of an airboat, swept a handheld fishing net through the mess and held it up. It was coated with brown sludge, which had stained the lower shafts of the leafy green reeds sticking up to eight feet out of the water.
"This has laid down a blanket in the marsh that will destroy every living thing there," Nungesser said.
Jindal said there had been indications of such coastal contamination from aerial observations on Tuesday. Wednesday's trip confirmed the incursion.
'The day that we've been fearing is upon us today,' he said later at a news conference in the coastal town of Venice, about an hour away by boat."
Kevin McGill reports for the Associated Press May 19, 2010 with Matthew Brown.
"Thick Oil Found Standing in Marshes Near Mouth of The Mississippi River" (New Orleans Times-Picayune)
"Louisiana Shore Sees Heavy Oil as BP Prepares Plug" (Reuters)
"Pictures: Heavy Oil Seeping Into Louisiana Marshes" (National Geographic)
"In the Bayou, Fish and Oil Have Mixed for Decades" (Washington Post)
"Seafood Testing From Gulf Oil Disaster Could Last Years" (USA TODAY)