Oil-soaked birds discovered close to oil spill at refinery in wake of Hurricane Ida

Louisiana wildlife officers say they’ve documented greater than 100 oil-soaked birds after crude oil spilled from a refinery flooded throughout Hurricane Ida.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries mentioned Thursday {that a} rising variety of oiled birds had been noticed inside heavy pockets of oil all through the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, in addition to close by flooded fields and retention ponds alongside the Mississippi River.

Jon Wiebe, a biologist working the state restoration program, mentioned 10 oiled birds have been captured and transported to a rehabilitation location for cleansing. 5 extra useless birds had been recovered and bagged as proof, he mentioned.

Efforts to seize and save extra birds are ongoing, Wiebe mentioned. The affected species embrace black-bellied whistling geese, blue-winged teal and a wide range of egrets. Different animals had been additionally seen lined in oil, embrace alligators, nutria and river otters.

A abstract issued Thursday by the Environmental Safety Company mentioned it had acquired 43 notifications of great inland oil spills and chemical releases in its jurisdiction after Ida. The company’s compliance arm has issued 10 requests to facility operators in search of info to find out whether or not federal environmental legal guidelines had been violated throughout the storm, doubtlessly triggering penalties and fines.

That could be a small fraction of the 1,539 studies of air pollution a U.S. Coast Guard hotline has acquired for the reason that Class 4 storm made landfall made landfall August 29 at Port Fourchon, the first port for the offshore oil and gasoline trade. The Coast Guard mentioned Thursday it was actively supervising the cleanup and mitigation efforts at 564 websites. One other 197 studies had been listed as unverified as a result of there was no remaining proof of air pollution.

The Related Press first reported the spill on the Alliance Refinery on September 1 after reviewing aerial photographs captured by a Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plane. Within the days after the hurricane, Phillips 66 repeatedly sought to downplay studies of harm on the firm’s sprawling refinery.

Hurricane Ida aftermath
This picture offered by NOAA exhibits an extended black slick floating within the Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. Coast Guard mentioned it’s investigating studies of doable oil spills ensuing from Hurricane Ida after the publication of aerial pictures by The Related Press.

NOAA by way of AP

Requested about studies of levee failures close to the refinery the day after Ida hit, Phillips 66 spokesman Bernardo Fallas informed AP there was “some water” within the facility and burdened that operations had been shut down upfront of the storm.

Requested two days after the storm about potential environmental hazards emanating from the power, Fallas referred a reporter to a press release on the corporate’s web site saying its response is concentrated “on making certain the protection and well-being of our staff and our surrounding communities.”

On the third day after the AP despatched Phillips 66 aerial pictures displaying in depth flooding on the refinery and what seemed to be petroleum within the water, Fallas conceded the corporate may had “found a sheen of unknown origin in some flooded areas” of the refinery and that every one air pollution had been “secured and contained inside refinery grounds” at the moment.

A Louisiana Division of Environmental High quality evaluation staff despatched to the refinery final week reported a large spill of heavy crude oil on the website was being addressed with booms and absorbent pads. A levee meant to guard the plant had breached, permitting floodwaters to stream in throughout the storm after which again out because the surge receded.

Hurricane Ida aftermath
Images captured by Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plane Tuesday, August 31, 2021, and reviewed by The Related Press present a much lengthy black slick floating within the Gulf of Mexico close to a big rig marked with the identify Enterprise Offshore Drilling.

NOAA by way of AP

No estimate for the way a lot oil may need spilled from the refinery has but been made public. When absolutely operational, the Alliance Refinery can course of greater than 255,000 barrels of crude oil per day into gasoline and different petroleum merchandise.

Phillips 66 didn’t instantly reply Thursday to an e mail in search of remark concerning the oil-soaked birds and wildlife. The corporate listed the growing old refinery on the market final month, earlier than the storm hit, citing poor market circumstances.

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