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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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Feds Halt Some Louisiana Dredging, Saying It Puts Islands at Risk
23 June 2010 6:23 pm
U.S. officials and the state of Louisiana continue to battle over whether the state's attempt to build sand berms that will protect wetlands from oil could damage sensitive barrier islands. Yesterday the federal government ordered a temporary halt in the dredging program, declaring that "enough is enough."
"If it were to continue for another week, we might pass a tipping point" of harm, said Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Scientists raised several objections to the state's first proposal last month to build a long line of sand berms on 10 May. One key concern was that taking sand from in front of the Chandeleur Islands would make them more vulnerable to erosion. The state agreed to change its approach by taking sand from a site further away and then pumping it through pipes to build the berms.
Despite that agreement, on 13 June the state asked the federal goverment for permission to dredge sand from in front of the Chandeleur Islands. Apparently, the state has had trouble constructing the pipe. The Army Corps of Engineers agreed to let the state dredge from in front of islands for a week, citing the imminent threat to the wetlands. And yesterday the state asked for permission for another 5 to 10 days of dredging in the same location, promising that tit would eventually put sand back.
But Strickland says that replacing what was packed sand with loose sand wouldn't suffice. The "preservation of the barrier island" is at stake, he says.
Although Strickland said no final decision had been made about allowing more dredging in that location, right now the dredges are idling. "They shut down yesterday evening," he says.
Billy Nungesser, the president of Plaquemines Parish and a strong advocate of the berms, is reportedly furious. Governor Bobby Jindal is equally insistent that there should be no delays. "We absolutely want to continue dredging in the current spot for another 5 days until we can make a seamless transition to the next borrow site," he said in a statement released yesterday evening. "We absolutely cannot afford to lose another day."
Jindal says that almost 1 kilometer of berm had been built. That's about 14% of the project. Strickland says the berms are unlikely to last more than 90 days before they're eroded away.