$144.5M in spill fines to be used for La. beach

PORT FOURCHON, La. (AP) — The foundation overseeing use of fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has approved $144.5 million to complete the restoration of a beach near Grand Isle.
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation says the project will create about 490 acres of habitat, adding about 7.5 miles of beachfront to the Caminada Headland. It will do so by pumping more than 5 million cubic yards of sand from the Gulf of Mexico through a pipeline.
Money for the project comes from a fund set up to manage fines paid by Transocean Ltd. and BP PLC after the companies pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges related to the 2010 oil spill.
Nearly $68 million allocated by the fund in 2013 included $3 million for the project's engineering and design, bringing the project's estimated total cost to about $217.5 million.
The state has already put $70 million into the project, reinforcing six miles of the headland with 3.3 million cubic yards of sand that created or enhanced 303 acres of beach and dune. It's expected to be completed in 2015. The last step will be planting native vegetation over all of the restored area.
The headland protects sensitive marshes and coastal forests from erosion and saltwater.
Grand Isle and other nearby barrier islands were heavily affected by oil that spewed into the Gulf after BP's Macondo well blew out on April 20, 2010. An explosion set off a fire that destroyed the drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and killed 11 workers.
Oil from the well fouled beaches and marshlands across the U.S. Gulf Coast. The well was capped in July 2010.

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