Tag Archive: volunteer



07.06.2010

Today, I attended an oiled bird rehabilitation.  Never in my life, did I think I could experience such polar opposite emotions for what I witnessed.  On one hand, I was heartbroken for the oiled wildlife and the troubles that they have endured because of this man-made spill. On the other hand, I was deeply grateful that these birds made it long enough to be rehabilitated.

The Pensacola Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation (POWH), which opened in May 2010, has currently 52 birds in their captivity that consists primarily of northern gannets, high bill greens, seagulls, ferns and a few herons.  While the POWH can easily accommodate a few hundred birds, dependent on size and severity of oil coverings, the maximum that POWH has contained has been 102 birds,  bringing the total to 949 birds rescued within the four Gulf rehabilitation centers.

When a bird first enters the rehabilitation center-the oil is not cleaned right away. Many birds are in shock or frightened and they need to be stabilized and possibly re-hydrated before any further stress is placed upon the bird. It has been found that by giving the birds a couple days to recuperate has increased the survivability tenfold.

Initially, veterinarians take  blood and feather samples to test for anemia and infection and give the oiled birds a temporary tag. Then the bird is taken to an oiled bird trailer where it can rest, if needed, in a temperature controlled trailer and receive IV fluids, food and Pepto Bismo to protect its stomach lining.

Just before they are washed, the birds are sprayed with a warm canola oil to loosen oil residue on their feathers. Then they are taken to a washing tub which requires normally 3-4 people to wash one oiled bird.

Once the head and pouch is cleaned using clothes, toothbrushes and small sponges are used for delicate areas with water flushed on an almost continuous basis to keep the soap from running into the birds eyes. A bath normally lasts up to 45 minutes, and for a large bird, like a brown pelican, as much as 300 gallons of water is used.

After a scrubbing down of the bird, a thorough rinse is necessary considering that soap can interfere in the same manner as oil via hypothermia.

Newly cleaned, the birds are whisked off to a drying room to rest in a padded pen while floor-mounted pet grooming dryers blew warm air. Smaller birds and wading birds are not blow dried but instead sit in pens under warming lights.

Once their total strength is gained, birds are then permanently tagged for tracking purposes and transported to outside containment facilities to get them re-accustomed to outside surroundings before releasing them into the wild.  The birds are allowed to recover for five to seven days, regaining buoyancy and water resistance by preening, putting on weight, and readjusting to outdoor temperatures.

Once returned to good health, they are ready to be released to the wild.  However, the wild may not be ready for them. In an environmental disaster like the Deepwater Horizon spill, wildlife cannot return to their contaminated homes. Instead birds have to be released into an area where they do not run the chance of being re-oiled. The majority of the birds are released off the east coast of Florida.

I asked Heidi Stout from the Tri-State Bird Rescue  & Research Organization, on ways that everyday citizens can get involved with the clean up of oiled wildlife. At this time, the only people who can physically help the oiled wildlife is trained paraprofessionals (licensed veterinarians, license wildlife handlers etc) since dealing with stressed birds could be harmful.

However, she urged for concerned citizens who are willing to volunteer via answering phones and inputting data information to contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife to offer assistance. It was also suggested that the donation of goods used to help clean the animals and monetary donations to further recovery efforts would be greatly appreciated.

Additionally, you can visit http://www.volunteerflorida.org/ to sign up for more volunteer training as well as visit a facebook group called, NWFL Panhandle Volunteer Beach Rescue Group at, http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=113452012028768&ref=ts for panhandle county specific volunteer efforts.

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BP to offer training in conjunction with OSHA and the Coast Guard.

Health, Safety and Environmental Training has been a key focus to properly prepare those interested in participating in shoreline clean up. The training is fit-for-purpose based on whether you are a volunteer, contractor or vessel owner. The Post-Emergency Spilled Oil Response Training Modules were prepared by Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), with review and approval provided by BP, Occupational Safety & Health Administration and US Coast Guard personnel.

The training is for those registered in the Vessel of Opportunity program or as a contractor who wants to participate in clean up. The non-contaminated beach clean up “volunteers” will receive a basic BP health, safety & environmental orientation which as been endorsed by OSHA and the the Coast Guard.

To be included as a volunteer, please contact the BP volunteer hotline at 866-448-5816. Your contact information will be gathered and you will contacted when opportunities arise in your area.

****If you are interested in assisting in shoreline oil spill clean up operations, and you live in one of the coastal states (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama or Florida), you can request placement in a spill response course by emailing Horizonresponse@pecpremier.com.

PLEASE NOTE:: This course is not a guarantee of employment but provides credentials needed to be hired for spill cleanup work by BP contractors.

For more up to date information, visit http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com.


05.04.2010

Another teleconference was held, in which I participated in, with the Department of  the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  U.S. Coastguard, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), British Petroleum (BP) and TransOcean.

Satellite imagery shows that the former 3,400 sq. miles oil slick has been reduced to  2000 sq mile. While at first this may seem reassuring, it is important to realize that the oil is pooling; that is, the oil remains under the water.

It has been claimed that the blowout rig did not have any fire boom on hand  which would have enabled a controlled burn of the oil slick. To compensate for the lack of supplies, the government fire boom from an Illinois-based manufacturer.

Ever since the 1989 Exxon Valdez  oil spill, the “In-Situ Burn” plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms. Those fire booms were not available.

A single fire boom being towed by two boats can burn up to 1,800 barrels of oil an hour.  That translates to 75,000 gallons an hour, raising the possibility that the spill could have been contained at the accident scene 100 miles from shore.  Further, the lack of a response for 8 days allowed the oil to spread further. Even more so, when the storm front rolled through a few days ago and all controlled burning was halted.

However, these response efforts have not stopped the oil slick from presenting  a threat to our coastline.

12 shrimp and 10 response boats have been following the oil sheen as it nears the coastline of Chandler, Louisiana. As of this point, no oil has made contact with the shoreline and it is said that the weather will keep the oil at bay for 3 days.

The stalled recovery efforts resumed activity this afternoon. Oil skimming, overhead dispersant, subsurface dispersant (one of the same with the only difference being the altitude/depth in which it is applied) and controlled surface burning have received the all-clear to assume the offensive position to battle the spreading of the oil slick. Further, 100 barrels of oil were burned in the initial response effort.  Due to the calm weather, officials are confident that oil can be ignited at a rate of 500-1000 barrels a day.

Additionally, the second blowout valve will be operational by the end of the day. However, this will not stop the oil flow altogether- instead, it will only stop one of the leaks, leaving the other 2 leaks exposed until further recovery efforts.

The next line of response to stop the flow of oil, a first time recovery tactic, a 70 ton concentrate and metal structure coffer-like dome which will extend t0 5,000 under water. This response has been effective in shallow waters; however, the response is unknown when submerged in greater depths.

The first containment chamber has been fabricated and is set to leave the dock by 12p CDT.  The containment chamber is expected to be operational within 6 days. No mention was made to the fabrication of the second containment chamber.

Alabama is capitalizing on the extra days of calm weather to install Hesco containers around West End Public Beach, the far west side of Dauphin Island.

The containers, metal cages lined a green absorbent, will be filled with C.I. Agent, a biochemical substance designed to solidify any oil that comes into contact with it. The solidified oil is then easier to remove and the green absorbent can be replaced to capture additional oil.

Dauphin Island Mayor Jeff Collier said the material is actually a wall that will protect the north shoreline.

“It presents a physical barrier as you can see. There’s some elevation to it so it can withstand a little bit of wave action. But essentially it will absorb an oil sheer that comes in there,” Collier said.

Additionally, private contractors in Alabama have been building a massive sand berm along the Gulf-facing shore on the western half of the island.   The berm will stretch for miles along the narrow island to prevent oil from flowing over the top of the island.

Meanwhile,  Gulf Cost residents are lining up in droves to volunteer and to help pre clean our beaches.  There was a massive clean up effort of approximately 1,000 volunteers rushing to clean up the shorelines. Similar efforts remain in effect; however, it was stressed to avoid picking up above the high tide line.

The Audubon Society warned that there many eggs right above the high tide line that blend in with the sand and could be accidentally crushed.  Additionally, it was asked to not remove any natural debris as that could provide a housing shelter for animals.

The oil sheen is not expected to make landfall for another 3 days. Use this time wisely to prepare a defense and a proactive stance against the looming oil slick.

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