Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Parish official: BP shipped in workers for president's visit

Click to play
Louisiana leader suspicious of BP motives
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Company hired to provide cleanup crews says it got order to beef up 5 days ago
  • NEW: "No, I did not" add workers for the president, boss tells radio station
  • BP beefed up cleanup workers just for Obama visit, local official says
  • Workers left when president left, parish councilman says
  • BP denies allegations: 'It's not associated with the president arriving'

(CNN) -- A Gulf Coast official accused BP of shipping workers into Grand Isle, Louisiana, for President Barack Obama's visit to the oil-stricken area Friday and sending them away once the president left the region.

Early Friday morning, "a number of buses brought in approximately 300 to 400 workers that had been recruited all week," Jefferson Parish Councilman Chris Roberts told CNN's "Situation Room."

Roberts said the workers were offered $12 an hour to come out to the scene at Grand Isle and work in what he called a "dog and pony show."

But, when Obama departed, so did the workers, he said, adding that he's never seen more than 20 workers at the Grand Isle cleanup site since the effort started.

Video: BP downplays report about Obama visit
Video: Did BP stage cleanup workers?
RELATED TOPICS

BP Chief Operating Officer Doug Suttles downplayed the claim Friday evening, telling CNN it is not unusual to see people wrapping up work in the afternoon.

"These individuals are working out in the heat of the sun. These are long days. They start early in the morning and they stop early in the evening," he said. "So the fact that they were leaving the location late in the afternoon was not unusual. It's not associated with the president arriving."

Suttles added that the workers would be back Saturday morning to continue working.

The company hired to provide the cleanup workers told WWL, a New Orleans-based radio station, that it was told to beef up the cleaning work force five days ago.

"No, I did not put extra workers on the job because the president was coming," said Donald Nalty of Environmental Safety and Health, which was contracted by BP to help in the cleanup effort.

An official at the oil cleanup command center told CNN that a temporary busing system had been established to shuttle the growing number of workers because of limited parking and housing accommodations in areas most impacted by the spilled oil. The official said trained responders were putting in 12 to 14-hour days.

Roberts told CNN's Anderson Cooper the hundreds of workers who showed up early Friday wouldn't speak to local emergency management officials.

"The sheriff's office did manage to get one person to speak with them and that individual said they were hired yesterday and told to report to a staging area at 7:30 this morning," Roberts added. "It just doesn't add up."

Oil disaster: Tracking the numbers
Part of complete coverage on
Impact Your World: How to help
A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers to help clean up coastal areas
Depths of the disaster
Get the numbers, see the images and learn how the worst U.S. oil spill has changed lives, ruined economies and more.
iReport: Gulf journals
These stories help us look into the lives of the hardworking people of the Gulf as they watch this disaster take its toll.
Send your photos, videos
Is your area being affected by the spill? Help CNN track the oil slick and its effects on Gulf Coast communities and wildlife
Map: What's been hit
Interactive map locates oil sightings and stories
Daily developments
How big is the slick? What's being affected? What's being done?
Timeline
Track the major developments of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
Berms, booms, blowouts: Glossary
Breaking down the jargon of the disaster
 
Quick Job Search