Despite reports saying that oil is dissipating from the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, local officials beg to differ and are pushing for continued commitment to the cleanup effort.
Billy Nungesser, president of Plaquemines Parish, La., believes the cleanup effort is being prematurely scaled back even though oil is still showing up on the coast and the surface of the water.
Photo distributed by Plaquemines Parish
A large mass of oil in Barataria Bay, near Wilkinson Canal, is shown in this photo taken on Thursday. It was released by the Plaquemines Parish government to show that, in contrast to recent reports, there is still plenty of oil on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.
"They say they are not (pulling back) but already they have canceled catering contracts, they've stopped production of boom at factories," Nungesser said at a press conference Thursday.
"We know there's a lot of oil out there," Nungesser said. "It's going to continue to come ashore, and we're going to hold their feet to the fire to make sure they're there until all the oil is gone out of the Gulf of Mexico before we pull all of the assets out of our parish."
Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's oil spill response chief, said at a separate briefing Thursday that oil has dispersed so much that it’s hard to spot.
"We continue to conduct intensive surveillance in the post storm week looking for oil. As we have talked before it's more dispersed and harder to find."
But Nungesser found that assessment hard to believe.
"Yesterday there was a flight where no oil was seen. I don't know how they took that flight, but they must have bobbed and weaved around the oil because in Plaquemines Parish there is oil all over," Nungesser said.
His office released photos Thursday of a large stretch of oil in Barataria Bay, near Wilkinson Canal, showing three boats in the vicinity: one skimmer, one running through it, and a third nearby.
"Once again, I’m disappointed that just when I thought we were getting better, there’s no boats out there to pick up this oil that is destined to land in the marsh and destroy more wetlands and more wildlife," said Nungesser. "Where’s the sense of urgency?"
- NBC News Mary Murray and msnbc.com's Petra Cahill