Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘Alaska’

December 28, 2009

Bligh Reef diesel spill disperses in high seas

An IBRRC Response Team was released from alert on Christmas day after a diesel fuel spill dispersed in heavy Alaska seas.

The response crew was on standby after a tugboat struck the infamous Bligh Reef last Wednesday and dumped diesel into Prince William Sound. Initial news reports claimed it spilled up to 33,000 gallons of fuel.

By the weekend, high seas and 25 knot winds helped disperse the diesel after the 136-foot “Pathfinder” tugboat ran aground on the the reef that was the scene of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

The tugboat had just finished checking for dangerous ice in shipping lanes and was heading back to port in Valdez when it hit Bligh Reef. The December 23rd collision tore open two fuel tanks.

After limping off the reef toward Busby Island, the boat was surrounded by floating booms, crews pumped out the remaining fuel before towing it back to Valdez, Alaska for repairs.

Diesel fuel a very light fuel compared with the heavy black crude that spilled from the Exxon Valdez. During that spill 11 million gallons of crude stained beaches and inlets over a 1200 mile area. The tugboat is part of the Ship Escort Response Vessel System that was created after the Exxon spill.

News reports

Crews prepare to remove remaining fuel from crippled tug: Alaska Daily News

(U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Charly Hengen)

July 16, 2009

Mysterious sea-going goo causing alarm in Alaska

A giant mass of goo has been spotted drifting through the Chukchi Sea in Alaska.

Hunters first noticed the slime early last week, the Anchorage Daily News reports. The substance is dark and thick and can be seen for miles in the sea.

The U.S. Coast Guard is sure the mystery gunk is a biological creation and has ruled out an oil spill or hazardous substance.

The odorous substance, which has been described variously as “goey”, “gunky” and “hairy” has been also been found of the coast of Barrow, 72 miles north east of Wainwright.

Read more: Alaska Daily News story

June 27, 2008

Court knocks down Exxon oil spill damages

After nearly 20 years of legal wrangling, the Exxon Valdez oil spill court case has finally come to a bitter end. On June 25, 2008 the U.S. Supreme Court knocked down punitive damages in a 5-3 ruling that could have far reaching affects for victims harmed during shipping oil spill accidents.

The court reduced the award to $500 million from $2.5 Billion that more than 32,000 fishermen and Alaska Natives had been waiting to collect on oil spill claims from the Exxon Mobil Corp. The plantiffs claimed that the spill caused incredible damage to fishing grounds and harmed their ability to make a living in the area. The 1989 spill caused 11 million gallons of crude oil to harm fishing grounds in the Prince William Sound area.

In late February 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court finally heard oral arguments in the case Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, 07-219. Case timeline

A lower court originally awarded $5 Billion in damages to area fishermen who lost revenue after the spill. Another court cut that award in half to $2.5 Billion. The Supreme Court was expected to trim some of the damage award again as Justice Samuel Alito recused himself from the case. Alito owns between $100,000 and $250,000 in Exxon stock and stepped aside on the case.

For background on the spill, go to Crude Awakening IBBRC’s story on the spill and its bird saving efforts.

Read more about the recent court descision from the story in the San Francisco Chronicle

Exxon not cutting any checks yet: Alaska Daily News

May 4, 2008

Good news for Bald eagles oiled in Alaska

There’s good news for most of the 30 Bald Eagles saved in Kodiak, Alaska in January after they tangled with a truck full of oily fish guts. At least 26 birds were successfully released back into the wild in the Kodiak area after being cared for at the IBRRC/Bird TLC bird center in Anchorage. Only two area still in care. Here’s the latest tally:

– 30 birds received
– 1 died the first night
– 29 birds washed
– 1 self released
– 28 birds moved to flight pens
– 1 bird developed a wing abscess
– 1 bird found starving & returned to Bird TLC

(As of this week, only two of the 30 original birds are in care)

Back in mid January 50 eagles of the majestic birds were coasted in fish oil after landing in an uncovered fish guts truck at the Ocean Beauty Seafood company. 20 of the birds suffocated with the birds rushed the truck. See the full story on the IBRRC website

February 25, 2008

High court hears Exxon Valdez oil spill suit

Nearly 14 years after Exxon was ordered to pay $5 billion dollars because of the damages done to people and their livelyhood during the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the nation’s top court is scheduled to hear the final appeal this week.

The U.S. Supreme Court will listen to arguments this coming Wednesday from the 1994 judgment that awarded residents and fishermen the huge award. The award has been reviewed three times by a district judge and twice by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco. In December 2006, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its final ruling, setting the punitive damages award at $2.5 billion.

In the meantime, 20% of the more than 30,000 fishermen, Native Alaskans, cannery workers and others who triumphed in the Anchorage, Alaska court that day in 1994 are now dead.

Following the 1989 oil spill, more than 11 million gallons spilled. An estimated 300 bald eagles died and another 200,000 common murres perished. Scores of other whales, otters, salmon and invertebrates also died in the aftermath of the spill that hit Prince William Sound and the surrounding areas.

Members of IBRRC’s response team spent nearly six months in Alaska helping care for oiled birds in the spill. See IBRRC report

Read more on the MSNBC website

Also read, plantiff’s law firm discussion of the case

January 23, 2008

"Washing slimed eagles cleanses soul"

There’s a terrific column by Elise Patkotak in the Anchorage Daily News this week on volunteering to help with the 30 Bald Eagles treated at IBRRC and Bird TLC’s Alaska Center:

“…So far, all the eagles that came to Bird TLC survived not only the slime dive but also the bathing and spraying and blow drying and tube feeding required to get them back on their feet and ready to go out into the wild again, cleaner and hopefully a lot wiser. Though we aren’t holding out a lot of hope on the wiser part. Did I mention they were almost all guys? One can only hope they’ve learned there is no such thing as a free lunch. Unless, of course, you’re at Bird TLC.

Long after these eagles are in their aeries telling their kids about the weird experience they once had when aliens abducted them, probed them, fed them and then freed them, the volunteers who are responsible for the success of this bedraggled group will still be at Bird TLC doing what they do routinely week after week, with or without the glare of the media. They will be cleaning mews, treating sick birds, fixing meals — generally doing their part to help Alaska’s wildlife. More important, doing their part to make this world a little bit kinder and a little bit gentler for all living creatures in it.

It’s what volunteers do. They feed the spiritual life of this nation and make America a great place to live. Don’t believe me? I’ve got a bunch of eagles you can talk to that will back me up 100 percent.”

More: Washing slimed eagles cleanses soul

Multimedia story from Anchorage Daily News

January 15, 2008

2008 comes in with a bang

The new year is turning out to be a busy one for IBRRC. In the first half of January, the bird center has personnel dedicated to the following events:

•Patagonia oil spill in Argentina
IBRRC is again teaming up with international wildlife professionals on Patagonia’s coast to help save 400 birds oiled affected by a mystery spill. Read more

•Battered by storms, birds flood center
Over a 100 birds, including a long-lost tropical Frigate bird, arrived for care at IBRRC’s Northern California center. All the birds in care were affected by severe weather that hit the Bay Area during early January. Winds in some areas were clocked at over 100 miles an hour. See full story

•Oily Bald Eagles arrive at IBRRC’s Alaska center
At least 35 bald eagles, who got caught in a feeding frenzy at a Kodiak fish processing plant, are on the mend at IBRRC’s Anchorage bird center. The oiled birds were rescued and flown to the center after becoming unable to fly following the melee inside a fish waste truck. More info

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