BELLE CHASE—Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the federal point man in the response to the Gulf oil spill, should be replaced, the leader of one of Louisiana's most oil-impacted parishes said Wednesday.
"He's not the right man for the job," said Plaquemines Parish President Billy Nungesser. "If the president of the United States does not make some drastic changes it's going to give him a bad rap that he doesn't deserve."
A message seeking comment from the Coast Guard spill command center was not immediately returned.
Nungesser's comments came Wednesday after workers under his direction resorted to sucking up oil from delicate marshes with ordinary shop vacuums.
He was furious after he said the Coast Guard shut down oil-vacuum barges while paper work was being processed.
"Not only is the leadership not there, they're standing in our way. They're crippling us," Nungesser said.
Nungesser and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal have complained about federal bureaucracy delaying a plan for weeks to build sand berms to keep oil out of places like Barataria Bay, where thick crude has washed onto beaches and sensitive wildlife habitats.
In interview in his office, Nungesser said clean up and containment efforts in south Plaquemines Parish under the Coast Guard and BP were disorganized.
"It's like a bunch of rats running around down there with their heads cut off. They don't know what they're doing," Nungesser said.
Nungesser also questioned Allen's claims that 25,000 people and hundreds of ships, barges and other vessels are active fighting the oil spill.
"Where they hell are they? They are not in Plaquemines Parish." Nungesser asked. "I'll bet you my pay check that what they've got on paper is not what's deployed out there."
Nungesser has been a frequent critic of spill response efforts since the BP-operated rig Deepwater Horizon exploded April 20 and sank two days later, leading to the nation's worst environmental disaster.
Oil from the well, about 40 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River, has fouled Plaquemines' barrier islands and marshes, and many seafood grounds have been closed.