BP Gulf Oil Spill: Local Politicians Plead For Help

In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, fishermen are now fishing for oil and laying containment boom in the Gulf of Mexico in a desperate attempt to save not just their jobs but their way of life.

"I don't see BP doing anything new, I don't see him protecting our fisherman, I don't see him protecting our home," said one local politician.

Fears run wide and deep, just like the ever-growing slick in day 43 of the BP oil spill. There is great concern about the coastline and the health of the people who live along the Gulf.

ABC News' Chris Cuomo spent the day with Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, Mayor Tim Kerner to see the thin line of boom that he says is the only line of defense for people of his community and for the fragile marshes that yield 30 percent of country's shellfish consumption. Shellfish is this community's economic lifeblood.

Below the Water

The concern is what can't be seen. The water looks clean, but in the grasses of the marshes are oil-soaked booms. That has many people on the Gulf Coast scared and frustrated.

Kerner said his community and others on the Gulf are not seeing the sense of urgency from BP that they would like to see.

"I don't think anyone realizes how much marshland we have here," Kerner said.

The people on the Gulf Coast are not alone in their frustration. Today, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that a criminal investigation has been under way for weeks into the oil spill. Holder would not say which companies or individuals are being targeted in the probes into the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Undeployed Boom

Part of the frustration many people in the region feel is fueled by the fact that 2 million feet of undeployed boom is sitting in 17 staging areas around the Gulf. Boom is a nautical term for something that changes the direction of a sail.

In the waters of the Gulf, boom being used to corral the oily sludge until it can be siphoned off the water's surface. The best estimates show that only a third of the slick can be controlled by boom.

Back on shore, ABC News made calls to BP, the company responsible for the spill, and soon enough Kerner was at the table with the BP personnel who had previously denied his request for more boom. This time, he made progress.

"Today they're actually going to, we're going to submit the map later on today in Homer," Kerner said. "It should be approved within 24 hours."

The mayor also said that BP is going to start a hazmat class that will provide 40 hour training classes to keep cleanup workers safe. On top of that, BP vowed to send out skimmers to pick up boom, he said.

"Today has been a positive day, a good day," Kerner said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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