BP Cover Up? Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser Says Oil Giant Lies About Oil Spill Cleanup

Oil is still hitting the Louisiana shore, and BP is trying to cover it up, aided by the federal government.

So says Louisiana leader Billy Nungesser, the Republican president of Plaquemines Parish, in an explosive interview today with ABC's Diane Sawyer.

Watch Diane Sawyer's conversation with Billy Nungesser tonight on "ABC World News."

VIDEO: Diane Sawyer talks to Louisiana parish president about the Gulf spill.
Nungesser: Not So Fast Declaring Gulf Victory

After a week of news suggesting that much of the oil has been skimmed up or begun to break up, Nungesser pushed back against those claims. He said his cleanup crews were busy vacuuming crude out of marshes over the weekend, finding thousands of dead fiddler crabs, as well as dead fish and oiled birds.

"Make no mistake, there's large areas that are totally destroyed, and the greenery is completely dead," Nungesser said.

VIDEO: Plaquemines Parish President talks to ABCs Diane Sawyer.
Full Interview with Billy Nungesser

Sawyer pressed Nungesser, asking him if he was accusing BP of a deliberate cover-up.

"Absolutely," he responded. "It's obvious, and until they sit around the table and put all the cards on the table, nobody trusts them. Take a poll -- does anybody trust them? Nobody down here."

"Who's controlling who here? It looks like BP's controlling the federal government," he said.

Oil Continues to Hit Marshland

"Saturday, this oil that I'm holding was in Barataria Bay at St. Mary's Point," Nungesser said, holding a jar full of thick black crude. "It's shameful that we have to keep proving ourself. I wish there was no oil -- I'd rather get my life back, too. But every day, oil is appearing somewhere."

VIDEO: BP gets ready for operation static kill, but will it bring the crisis to an end?
BP Going in for the Kill

Nunguesser said that BP has vastly understated the area of marshland affected by the spill, and he now has his own helicopters out searching for oil, feeding in information on the location of crude.

"We used to get that information from BP, but it's obvious now that their job is to fly out there and say there's no oil," he said. "The local people are having to go out and look for it ourself."

Where Did the BP Oil Go? Nungesser Says Look in the Marshes

VIDEO: Billy Nungesser
BP Oil Spill: Billy Nungesser Demands Action

Government and independent scientists have suggested in recent days that much of the oil has been broken down by deep-sea bacteria. The size of the slick has shrunk dramatically in the last month, and skimmers have picked up just a fraction of the amount of oily water that they were at the height of the spill.

"We're finding hydrocarbons around the well, but as we move away from the well, they move to almost background traces in the water column," National Incident Cmdr. Adm. Thad Allen told ABC News last week.

Even environmentalist Philippe Cousteau couldn't find oil or deep-sea plumes when he went diving over the weekend.

"We went offshore looking for oil and then made about four or five jumps in different spots outside off shore and didn't see anything," Cousteau said.

But Nungesser says that plenty of oil remains in the water, and it comes out whenever the sea is roiled.

"When the storm kicks up, any kind of wind, the oil mixes up. Early in the morning, late in the evening, it's on the surface. You've got to skim it then, or it ends up in the marsh," he said.

Nungesser has called on BP to provide more skimmers, but he says the company has been riding the wave of positive news to pull assets out.

"They waste more money on ridiculous stuff than on actually going out there and fighting the oil, and that's a crime," he said.

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