Wednesday, August 06, 2008

15 days after the oil spill

The barge is still lodged against the Crescent City Connection and sightings of oil-covered animals are mounting. Approximately 155 gallons of a mixture of oil and water have been cleaned up, but the percentage of oil to water is unknown. It is also not known how much of the 430,000 gallons of oil has already spilled and how much is left in the barge. The vessel is still leaking oil and crews are still pondering how to retrieve the remaining oil and the barge itself. Where are the experts? Are they stumped by the situation or are they not even here in New Orleans dealing with this spill?

On Friday I visited the animal rescue site in Venice, LA, a city that is located at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and took pictures of animal rescue workers from Texas’ SPCA, as they cleaned three birds of the four birds they had at the facility. The fourth bird was too stressed out to be cleaned so they decided to wait a day. Elizabeth Cook, a writer who accompanied me, wanted to know whether more animals were affected and why so few had been recovered for rescue. She didn’t get a definitive answer from the representative from the fish and wildlife department. Turns out there are four to six fish and wildlife boats searching 100 miles of river, maybe that accounts for the low number.

Hank Bark at Tulane’s Natural History Museum said the animals affected the most would die quickly and never be found, and others would get sick and weakened over time, but with so much land to cover the low recovery rate makes sense. As of yesterday, the number of recovered animals stands at 26 and some of those died before they were cleaned.

Dawn is the soap of choice for removing oil for animals. No intentional product placement here, just a fact.

The information at the news conferences I have attended has been vague at best. Yesterday the most reliable updates I could get were by going to the boardwalk where there is a view of the barge itself. The TV stations had crews staked out this morning in case the barge was to be lifted out of the water today, but that didn’t happen. The story is not in the news any longer now that commerce is back to normal but the situation remains tenuous. The barge is still a potential disaster waiting to happen and we don't know if the experts are here in New Orleans. Perhaps they are, and this has been deemed a wait and see situation. 


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