Anchors left over from Gulf of Mexico oil spill containment booms called threat to navigation
Hundreds of 80-pound anchors left in Jefferson Parish’s coastal waters after oil-containment boom was removed are so many accidents waiting to happen, according to a Parish Council resolution that calls on BP to present a plan for removing the anchors.
The submerged aluminum anchors, which can protrude up to 3 feet from the bottom of waterways, could wreak havoc on boat hulls and motors as well as fishing nets, said Councilman Chris Roberts, who sponsored the resolution approved at last week’s council meeting.
“You won’t know where they’re sitting in the water until you run into one of them,” Roberts said.
He said BP contractors, in some cases, removed containment boom in recent weeks by cutting ropes and cords attached to the anchors, which were left in the water. He said a BP official told him the company has no plans to remove the anchors, some of which are in shallow waters.
“He basically said BP’s position is to leave the anchors out there and deal with any accident claims as they arise,” Roberts said. “That’s just not acceptable.”
A BP spokesman said the company is reviewing the matter but does not believe the anchors pose a hazard.
“We don’t have a sense that they are protruding at all,” spokesman Joe Ellis said. “They are designed to lay flat on the bottom or become imbedded in the mud.”
He said BP is working with state officials to review what it would take to remove thousands of “orphaned anchors” from Louisiana waters. The findings will be presented to the oil spill’s Unified Command, which will decide how to proceed, Ellis said.
He said some anchors were not removed because either they were imbedded in sediments or the boom line had broken free and the anchors could not be found.
“Any anchor that was still attached to the boom and was not imbedded was removed. But there are still a great many of them out there,” said Ellis, who estimated the total at “several thousand.”
Roberts said finding the anchors now would be difficult.
“They probably have no idea where the heck they are and will have to use sonar to find them,” he said.
Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner said the anchors were primarily used in channels, such as Bayou Barataria, with currents too strong for the PVC poles used to secure much of the boom that helped shield Louisiana’s coast from BP’s massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
“They’re large anchors that could really do some damage to boats,” Kerner said. “I don’t know why in the world they decided to leave them in the water.”
Roberts said powerful storm surges could toss the anchors around, potentially damaging underwater pipelines, levees and homes.
Aluma Marine in Harvey manufactured 300 anchors used by BP, owner Chad Perrin said.
He said the anchors protrude 3 feet when sitting on a hard surface, such as concrete.
“In the water, they are designed to lay down somewhat and sink into the mud, but it’s impossible to say how much they might be sticking up,” Perrin said. “If you hit one, though, it could cause significant damage.”
Paul Rioux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 504.826.3785.