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Operations started to return back to normal at Port Fourchon Friday, two days after wind gusts from Hurricane Zeta as strong as 140 mph lashed the critically important oil facility.

Operations started to returning to normal at Port Fourchon Friday, two days after wind gusts from Hurricane Zeta as strong as 140 mph lashed the critically important oil facility.

Chett Chiasson, executive director, said the facility was in “good shape,” though it didn’t have power, some buildings were damaged, trailers were knocked over and vessels broke away from their moorings during the storm. Critical infrastructure such as cranes and bulkhead facilities were not damaged and the navigational waterway to the port was in good shape, he said.

“Tomorrow we’ll have full work crews in to get us up and running,” he said. “We expect in the next day or so we will be at full operations, even without power.”

Access roads to the port were opened Friday, so tenants could go in to assess damage. That also allowed for vessel crew changes and for light deliveries to come in, Chiasson said. The U.S. Coast Guard has cleared two-way ship traffic to come into the port, but only during daylight.

“Most of the port, since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Gustav and Ike, has been built up to FEMA standards,” he said. “We’re pretty resilient.”

Zeta knocked out power to most of the southern part of Lafourche Parish, below the Intracoastal Canal. Our Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Cut Off is about the only place in the southern part of the parish with power, Chiasson said.

Officials with the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, which has its land base at Fourchon, said the hurricane didn’t affect its operations.

About half of the U.S. crude oil refining capacity is connected to LOOP, which also handles between 10% to 15% of all  domestic and foreign oil that comes into this country. Fourchon helps furnish about 18% of the entire U.S. oil supply.


Email Timothy Boone at tboone@theadvocate.com.