Hud­son toxi­co­lo­gist on-call for Loui­sia­na oil spill

Le Ni­choir foun­der ready to train vo­lun­teers

L'Etoile - - IN OTHER WORDS -

Lynn Miller has pa­cked her bags and is ready to head to Loui­sia­na’s oil ra­va­ged coast on a mo­ments no­tice.

As of Mon­day mor­ning, Miller, a wild­life bio­lo­gistw­ho has her PhD in toxi­co­lo­gy, had been contac­ted by the U.S. Hu­mane So­cie­ty and as­ked if she would take charge of trai­ning some 2,000 vo­lun­teers who have des­cen­ded on the U.S. gulf coast to help scores of bird and wild­life spe­cies af­fec­ted by theA­pril 20 spill.

She’s wai­ting on fi­nal confir­ma­tion be­fore hea­ding out.

“The vo­lun­teers mean well but this must be hand­led like ami­li­ta­ry ope­ra­tion with pro­per trai­ning or they could do more harm than good,” saidMiller, who is a co-foun­der of Le Ni­choirWild Bird Conser­va­tion Centre in Hud­son.

As well, the pre­sident-elect of the In­ter­na­tio­nalWild­life Re­ha­bi­li­ta­tion Coun­cil, ba­sed in Ca­li­for­nia, said wor­king in Loui­sia­na would be long and gruel­ling.

“We would form a tea­ching team and take over trai­ning,” she said, ad­ding, “This is a dan­ge­rous si­tua­tion, we’re dea­ling­with toxic oil that can be da­ma­ging to hu­mans and ani­mals.”

“Wa­shing a pe­li­can, for example, is a ve­ry phy­si­cal job be­cause it’s a large, ag­gres­sive bird, so you­might need four people for each bird, one to hold the head, two for each side of the bo­dy and one for the tail,” Miller ex­plai­ned.

And, she no­ted, wor­kers might need to wash each bird twice de­pen­ding on the amount of oil coa­ting their fea­thers.

Other af­fec­ted spe­cies could in­clude the “en­tire po­pu­la­tion of turtles born this spring,” as well as fish, sh­rimp, and the al­rea­dy en­dan­ge­red ma­na­tee.

“The oil will af­fect eve­ry­thing, from mi­nute or­ga­nisms to large ani­mals li­ving along the coast and­marshes.”

Miller al­so no­ted the need to “do­cu­ment eve­ry­thing pro­per­ly so there will be no wiggle room for (Bri­tish Pe­tro­leum PLC) when it comes to tal­lying the costs (of the di­sas­ter).”

Oil spill

Deep­wa­ter Ho­ri­zon, an oil rig lea­sed by Bri­tish Pe­tro­leum PLC, sank April 20 af­ter an un­der­wa­ter fire and ex­plo­sion that clai­med the lives of 11 wor­kers. The rig was lo­ca­ted about 50miles off Loui­sia­na’s coast in the Gulf of Mexi­co. The cause of the ex­plo­sion has not yet been iden­ti­fied.

Cur­rent­ly an es­ti­ma­ted 5,000 bar­rels of oil are pum­ping in­to the al­rea­dy hea­vi­ly conta­mi­na­ted wa­ter (close to 1.6 mil­lion gal­lons of oil have spilled to date.)

As of Mon­day, BP was still unable to close an un­der­wa­ter shu­toff valve from where the oil spill ori­gi­na­ted.

Oil hit Loui­sia­na’s Chan­de­leur Is­lands Sa­tur­day, where the state bird, the en­dan­ge­red BrownPe­li­can spe­cies, re­sides.

The spill, about 100 miles long by 48miles wide, is qui­ck­ly­mo­ving to­wards the coasts of Ala­ba­ma, Mis­sis­sip­pi and Flo­ri­da, where states of emer­gen­cy have been de­cla­red by go­ver­nors in the th­ree states.

Though consi­de­red one of the worst oil spills to af­fect theWes­tern He­mis­phere, the Loui­sia­na di­sas­ter has still not sur­pas­sed that of theExxonVal­dez. The Val­dez re­lea­sed about 10.8 mil­lion gal­lons of oil in­to Alas­ka’s Prin­ceWilliam Sound on March 24, 1989. Thou­sands of en­dan­ge­red bird and ani­mal spe­cies, along with scores of fish spe­cies, were de­vas­ta­ted.

The im­pact of the Val­dez spill re­mains to this day.

For her part, Miller sees no good co­ming fromthe conti­nued­mi­ning of oil from­wa­ter.

“Off shore drilling is a di­sas­ter wai­ting to hap­pen and it has.”

Le Ni­choirWild Bird Conser­va­tion Centre foun­der Lynn Miller is ex­pec­ted to help train vo­lun­teers fol­lo­wing Loui­sia­na’s oil spill di­sas­ter.

It can take up to four vo­lun­teers to wash oil from a pe­li­can’s bo­dy.

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