In The Time Of COVID-19: Alaska Oil Spill Response
Aerial photograph of the Valdez Marine Terminal, Alaska. You possibly can see the oil sheen and growth deployment in Prince William Sound. Picture credit score: Alyeska Pipeline
Sunday, April 12th was identical to some other “regular” day adjusting to our new “regular” of “flattening the curve” through the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the previous weeks, states on the west coast of the USA had instituted #StayHome insurance policies to sluggish the transmission of the lethal novel virus spreading throughout the globe since late 2019.
On that night at 6:15 pm, Worldwide Chicken Rescue obtained a name from our long-time consumer, Alyeska Pipeline Service Firm, alerting us to a small oil spill incident in Valdez, Alaska. Instantly, Alyeska activated Barbara Callahan, Chicken Rescue’s Response Director, to offer experience on this creating state of affairs.
Callahan discovered that the incident concerned a small leak from a sump pump on the Valdez Marine Terminal – on land roughly 650 ft from the shore of Prince William Sound. The mere point out of a spill on this space, instantly brings up terrifying ideas within the waters made well-known by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill catastrophe. And whereas the quantity of this oiling was small, the oil seeped into the topsoil and leached into the harbor, the place it created a big space of sheen. Worse, the realm the place the sheen was contained inside growth units was adjoining to a pier the place one of many largest and most profitable breeding populations of Black-legged Kittiwakes nest yearly. There was additionally concern for the myriad of different fish, seabirds, waterfowl, and marine mammals that have been making their annual return to the realm for feeding and breeding. So as to add to the concern, the spill web site was very near a industrial salmon fishery the place fry (small juvenile salmon) have been scheduled for launch inside two weeks of this oil spill. There have been important issues that the ensuing sudden inflow of prey species to the realm would herald extra animals foraging.
If this occasion had occurred with out the existence of a pandemic, the response ways can be clear: Chicken Rescue would deploy one or two discipline groups to Valdez to seize and stabilize any oil-affected birds. As well as, there can be a group assigned to activate the Alaska Wildlife Response Heart (AWRC) in Anchorage. This turn-key standby heart is at all times ready to supply full rehabilitation of oiled wildlife.
Due to COVID-19 journey and quarantine restrictions, personnel from outdoors of Valdez have been required to undergo a 14-day quarantine inside the state. With a purpose to shortly provoke wildlife operations in Valdez, Alyeska activated a number of “Vessels of Alternative” (“VOO’s”) who’re stored on contract and who’re pre-trained yearly by Alyeska and Chicken Rescue to be wildlife observers and seize crews. As well as, a small group of marine mammal consultants have been introduced in from Anchorage and a neighborhood veterinarian have been enlisted to carry out wildlife stabilization.
Two Chicken Rescue group members, Julie Skoglund and Liz Montenegro, have been deployed to Anchorage to organize the AWRC, and arrived on April 20th. As with each different a part of this response, even this pretty direct deployment required an intensive contact historical past and a three-day quarantine with out leaving their lodge rooms earlier than the group was capable of get to work on the AWRC. As soon as launched from their quarantine, they shortly started working and never solely ready for potential sufferers, but additionally carried out a deep-clean on the middle’s upstairs storage space, creating new space for storing and cleansing out out-of-date or pointless tools and provides.
We’re relieved to report that solely three animals have been oiled throughout this occasion, two have been deceased previous to assortment and one chicken was euthanized. Whereas we’re by no means completely satisfied to see any oiled animals, this occasion had the potential to affect 1000’s extra animals, and we breathed a sigh of aid because the spill space grew to become smaller and smaller every day, and the oiled shoreline has been regularly restored. Whereas spill cleanup operations will proceed till the atmosphere is restored, as of Could 5, our Anchorage group has been demobilized and returned to their houses to self-quarantine for 14 days. Response Director Barbara Callahan and Chicken Rescue will proceed to be part of the Spill Response administration group offering our greatest recommendation and suggestions till cleanup operations are full.
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