Alex still hindering oil cleanup efforts

Thursday, July 01, 2010
BP CEO Tony Hayward prepares to testify on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2010. A Capitol Hill police officer arrests Diane Wilson on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, June 17, 2010, as BP CEO Tony Hayward testified before the Energy and Environment subcommittee on Oversight d Investigations hearing on the role of BP in the Deepwater Horizon Explosion and oil spill. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Hurricane Alex may be falling apart over Mexico, but off the coast of Louisiana, it is still causing huge problems. For the third day, cleanup crews were stuck at a port while waves pushed oil on to the coast.

BP says it was so rough, cleanup crews couldn't even work on Port Fourchon's beach. But it's a good thing we saw the cleanup crews at the staging area because if all you saw the mess they left behind, you might think they were swept out in the storm's waves.

Shovels were left standing in the sand; the storm blew half of them over. The plastic bags crews filled with oily sand on Tuesday were still there two days later, and some were leaking oil right on to the beach.

All their supplies werre strewn everywhere.

It's not just their equipment that was left behind; hundreds of tar patties rolled up in the high surf.

The oil coated virtually everything on the beach. We're told the crews couldn't work because of the high winds and worried the oil would blow in to their unprotected faces.

It's not just crews on the beach who couldn't work; for almost three days, crews everywhere have been sitting.

After weeks of non-stop work, cleanup worker Mitch Cellum doesn't mind the days off. He works as a scout finding oil for crews to skim up offshore.

For two and a half days, he hasn't been looking for any, and the skimmers are stuck here too; the waves are too big for them to work anyway.

But he knows there's oil out there.

"That stuff could get away from you, and you don't know where it went," Cellum said.

On the beaches, oil did come up with the higher than normal tide. But BP says the waves actually helped.

On Monday, they were expecting a large slick of heavy oil, but after days in the churning sea, BP says that oil is broken up. And even if it hadn't, they say there's no way crews could have gone to work on Thursday.

"We want to clean up the Grand Isle area," said Jason French with BP. "But the number one priority is the safety of the folks on those boats."

They hope they can get out on Friday but admit it may not settle down until this weekend.

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