Monday, November 9, 2015

Ducks and geese oiled in White Center spill

by Larry Altose Communications Manager, Northwest Regional Office

Many mallard ducks come to the pond.
Cleanup and bird rescue crews continue their efforts in response to an oil spill discovered late Friday afternoon in a King County stormwater retention pond in White Center.

Workers made progress on Saturday and Sunday, rescuing oiled waterfowl and removing oil from the pond near 13th Street in unincorporated King County.

The Washington Department of Ecology is coordinating the response, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the King County Department ofNatural Resources and Parks. Ecology has hired a spill response contractor and a wildlife rescue organization for the cleanup.

Crews capture oiled waterfowl.
The spilled material appears to be about 50 to 100 gallons of cooking oil that entered the pond via the county stormwater drainage system. County and Ecology staff have been tracing storm drains to search for the source of the spill. No additional oil has entered the lake since a citizen first reported the spill late Friday afternoon.

Cooking and other edible oils, while less toxic to wildlife than petroleum products, still cause environmental harm. When birds contact the oil it coats the feathers so that the animals lose insulation and buoyancy. Oil damages habitat for other aquatic life, reducing oxygen levels and creating physical impacts on the water surface and shoreline.

Special pads remove oil from the pond surface.
Crews from Focus Wildlife International have captured 14 oiled birds - four mallard ducks and 10 Canada geese. The birds received initial treatment near the scene in the organization’s special trailer. They were transported for further treatment at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society’s Wildlife Rescue Center in Lynnwood.

Workers hope to capture approximately 20 other oiled birds, some of which have flown to other ponds, lakes or fields in the area. No wildlife deaths have been reported. Meanwhile, other workers continue to tend oil spill cleanup materials placed in the pond to collect the oil, which has spread into a slick over much of the surface. Crews succeeded in preventing oil from draining out of the pond, which flows into nearby Hicklin Lake.

King County stormwater pond.
The cleanup has reduced the amount of oil seen on the pond over the past two days. Ecology’s contractor will measure the amount of oil recovered in cleanup materials to better determine the size of the spill.

The on-site response effort, which involved 25 people on Saturday and 18 on Sunday, continues to step down to about 9 responders today.

For updates, please follow Ecology's Northwest Regional Office on Twitter and visit our website.

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