Oil-covered Birds Found After Ida’s Passage

WASHINGTON (AP) – Louisiana wildlife officials have documented more than 100 oil-soaked birds following an oil spill from a refinery that was flooded during Hurricane Ida.

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries reported Thursday that increasing numbers of oil-covered birds had been observed inside oil pockets throughout the Phillips 66 Alliance refinery in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, and had also detected the presence of crude in flooded fields and nearby retention ponds along the Mississippi River.

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Jon Wiebe, a biologist who runs the state’s restoration program, said 10 birds covered in oil have been captured and taken to a rehabilitation site for cleanup. Five lifeless birds were recovered and stored as evidence, he added.

Wiebe noted that efforts to capture and save more birds are ongoing. Species affected include the red-billed suiriri, the blue-winged teal, and a variety of herons. Other animals covered in oil were also observed, such as alligators, otters and river otters.

A summary released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency noted that it had received 43 notifications of oil spills and significant releases of chemicals inland after Ida’s passage. The agency’s enforcement branch has issued 10 requests to facility operators seeking information to determine whether federal environmental laws were violated during the storm, which could trigger penalties and fines.

The Associated Press first reported the oil spill at the Alliance refinery on Sept. 1, after reviewing aerial images taken by planes from the National Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In the days after the Category 4 hurricane made landfall on August 29, Phillips 66 repeatedly tried to downplay reports of damage at the company’s sprawling refinery.

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