Scenes From the Gulf Clean-Up: Local Crew Takes On BP

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BP is overseeing most of the Gulf cleanup crews, but in Plaquemines Parish, a wetland region of southeast Louisiana, independent forces are stepping in. There, parish president Billy Nungesser was unhappy with the pace of BP efforts so he started his own team. The Plaquemines Parish Inland Waterway Strike Force has 49 workers -- many of them local boat captains who know the waterways better than anyone. The team is "knocking the socks off" BP, boasts project manager Jesse Shaffer. He says that at the operations meeting held each morning at 5:30, when the Coast Guard and BP review the previous day's progress, the Plaquemines force has frequently been singled out for outperforming other crews. (When I called Coast Guard Commander Claudia Gelzer, she was reluctant to single out any one group, saying only that the Plaquemines Parish task force is an "integral part" of the effort and that "they do a tremendous job.") Says Nungesser, "This team has the passion and the heart to save their way of life and their wetlands. It's not just a job. It's personal to them."

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Using a Dustbuster to Suck Up the Oil and Digging the Oil Out of the Wetlands

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University's Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

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