Last week’s Hurricane Alex suspended clean up efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, and the deployment of a third vessel to capture the oil flow from BP’s Deep Horizon well. One of the newest set backs in that region has been the seeping of oil into Lake Pontchartrain. A series of barges were initially set up that were suppose to block the passes connecting the Gulf of Mexico to the lake. Strong winds from Hurricane Alex allowed the oil to slip by and enter the lake. Lake Ponchartrain has had a storied environmental history. Once a playground for swimming and fishing, the lake became too polluted and all activities were abandoned. In the 1990’s efforts were made to restore the lake, and it has made a remarkable comeback. Fishing, swimming, and restaurants popped up along the shoreline once again. However, when Katrina hit, the US Army Corp of Engineers drained the New Orleans contaminated floodwaters back into the lake, effecting marine life once again. Despite that action, the lake made a comeback, but now faces a new threat from the BP spill. Efforts are currently under way to install additional booms and skimmer vessels to contain and pick up the oil from the surface. Louisiana state officials are testing the fish in the lake and have banned them from one area for the time being. The flow of oil into Lake Ponchartrain only adds to the complexity of trying to contain such a massive spill. Oil has now been reported along 500 miles of shorelines affecting all of the states that border the Gulf. Eventually the oil will come around the Florida Keys and head northward along the Eastern Seaboard.
Photo: Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Photo Courtesy: Flickr