Offshore berms are massive, man-made sand barriers constructed to adjoin or extend existing barrier islands. Just a few weeks after the spill, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Plaquemines Parish President Billy Joe Nungesser seized on an idea to construct massive sand berms along Louisiana's barrier islands for spill response, to guard the coastline from oil. The berms project presented an opportunity for Louisiana to take the lead on a large-scale response measure with BP footing the bill. Moreover, after the spill ended, the berms' purpose could play a role in restoring Louisiana's damaged coastal system.
Governor Jindal and the Louisiana congressional delegation put substantial pressure on the federal government to implement the berms projects. The projects moved forward, despite considerable skepticism from government scientists about their likely effectiveness.
It took five months to build roughly 10 miles of berms, at a cost of about $220 million. Estimates of how much oil the berms collected vary, but none is much more than 1,000 total barrels.