Dutch dredging company to help US oil slick efforts

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Dutch dredging company Boskalis said Wednesday it will help the US state of Louisiana shield its coast from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill by providing sand for protective berms.

"The State of Louisiana has contracted Royal Boskalis Westminster to deliver sand for berms to protect the Louisiana coast from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," it said in a statement.

The sand berms, about 75 kilometres (47 miles) long and 1.8 metres high, would be placed south of New Orleans to "help block the oil from entering the state's more fragile and harder-to-clean marshes."

A US-flagged Boskalis dredger has already been deployed to the clean-up operation and the company would also help insstall and use a "rigid sweeping arm" made available by the Dutch ministry of water management.

Boskalis works in the construction and maintenance of ports and waterways, land reclamation, coastal defence and riverbank protection. It has a fleet of over 1,000 units and employs about 14,000 people in 65 countries.

US experts now estimate between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels a day is spewing into the waters off the Louisiana coast, after an explosion in April sank an exploratory deepwater drilling rig leased by BP.

The massive slick, now the nation's worst ever environmental disaster, is threatening the coastlines of four southern US states, and has crippled the fishing and tourist industries -- vital economic lifelines for the region.

© 2010 AFP

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