Many Gulf Spill Cleanup Efforts Ineffective and Harming, not Helping Birds

For Immediate Release

American Bird Conservancy
Contact: 

Robert Johns, 202-234-7181 ext.210, bjohns@abcbirds.org

Many Gulf Spill Cleanup Efforts Ineffective and Harming, not Helping Birds

New Report and Recommendations Issued Today by American Bird Conservancy

WASHINGTON - A report
released today by American Bird Conservancy, America's leading bird
conservation group, shows how some of BP's oil spill cleanup efforts are
actually causing harm to birds and their habitats rather than helping
them,
that cleanup vessels are inadequate and operating in the wrong
locations, and
that deployed boom has failed to protect some important bird colonies
from oil.

The report, entitled Gulf
Oil Spill: Field Survey Report and Recommendations
, provides a
series
of five key recommendations for birds - ranging from the use of boom to
habitat restoration - related to cleanup efforts surrounding the
Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The report is based on a just-completed week-long
field
assessment by ABC staff, who observed oil impacts and cleaning
operations from
Louisiana through Mississippi to Dauphin Island, Alabama. As part of the
overview, ABC staff toured affected areas by boat with local and federal
officials and charter boat captains. With Coast Guard officials, they
also undertook
an aerial over-flight of the spill area and points northwest of that
location.

"Restoration needs to start as soon as major
coastal
oiling has been effectively addressed. The Gulf doesn't have the decades
it took to resolve the legal wrangling that followed the Exxon Valdez
spill.
The hydrology of the Mississippi Delta and the surrounding area is
already
facing dire threats from climate change,
erosion,
and hurricanes. Let's not repeat the same mistakes we made in
Alaska twenty years ago," said ABC Vice President and report author Mike
Parr.

The specific recommendations contained in the
report (see
expanded explanations provided in the report)
address:

1.      
The use of more effective boom to protect bird
colonies. Numerous instances were observed where boom was in complete
disarray,
including being washed up on shore.

2.      
The employment of better fencing and other measures to
protect sensitive beach nesting areas and to reduce disturbance to
birds.
Clean-up crews were clearly unaware in several instances of the negative
impacts they were causing to birds and their habitat.

3.      
The deployment of adequately sized and equipped oil
skimmers close to the coast with improved real-time oil reports to
eliminate
oil before it reaches the beaches and marshlands. ABC observed an
instance of a
substantial heavy oil slick about half a mile offshore while cleanup
vessels
were operating in very mildly oiled waters about one mile away -
apparently
unaware.

4.      
The creation of a staging and recovery area for heavily
oiled birds close to the coast. With the moving of the existing facility
to a
location about 70 miles away, some sort of near-shore facility is
needed.

5.      
 The restoration of eroded island habitat for
nesting birds. Breton Island, for example, is a fraction of its original
size,
is an important bird habitat and is in desperate need of rebuilding.

"Clearly,
this is
an unprecedented spill that has brought massive, well-intentioned
efforts to
the area - over 3,000 boats and 30,000 people are involved. Our
recommendations, while not comprehensive, reflect first-hand
observations and
are intended to make those efforts rapidly more effective, especially in
light
of the fact that fall bird migration is just around the corner," Parr
added.

During their survey, ABC staff observed oiled birds
at
several locations. The report presents a list of the observed oiled bird
species.

"Without question, I think the unqualified bright
spot
of the cleanup effort was the bird cleaning center in Fort Jackson. It
was
gratifying to see that part of the cleanup is being carried out very
effectively. The staff of the International
Bird
Rescue Research Center seemed totally committed, but most importantly,
birds are being saved. During one of our boat surveys with U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service officials, our vessel captured a clearly sick and oiled
juvenile Roseate Spoonbill, and had it sent to the Center for treatment.
Two
days later, they brought out the bird for us to see and it looked clean
and
alert - much improved from the feeble state that allowed it to be simply
picked up by hand off an oil boom 48 hours earlier," Parr said.

To view the report, link to:  www.abcbirds.org/newsandreports/ABC_Gulf_Oil_Spill_Report.pdf.

###

American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org) conserves native birds and their habitats throughout the Americas by safeguarding the rarest species, conserving and restoring habitats, and reducing threats while building capacity of the bird conservation movement. ABC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization that is consistently awarded a top, four-star rating by the independent group, Charity Navigator.

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