Hudson toxicologist on-call for Louisiana oil spill
Le Nichoir founder ready to train volunteers
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).”
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.