Image by bstad from Pixabay

Imagine what the oil in this picture will do to birds and alligators? At the recent oil spill in Chalmette the results were not pretty.

Dozens of alligators are undergoing rehabilitation and thousands of other animals are dead after a corroded pipeline near Chalmette leaked more than 300,000 gallons of diesel fuel into a coastal wetland. Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries officials caught and are treating 72 alligators that were affected by the spill, as well as 20 snakes and 12 turtles. Almost two dozen diesel-coated birds were captured for treatment, but only two survived. The spill from the 16-inch-diameter line operated by Collins Pipeline Co. was discovered Dec. 27 near a levee along the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet Canal between Chalmette and Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge. On Wednesday, wildlife officials said more than 2,240 fish, including shad and gar, and 104 other animals, were found dead at the spill site. The toll includes 32 birds, 39 snakes and 16 turtles. No alligators are known to have died, although many appear ill from diesel exposure. “We weren’t expecting to find so many alligators in that one area,” said Laura Carver, Wildlife and Fisheries’ oil spill response coordinator. “Thankfully they’re pretty sturdy animals.” The Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office initially characterized the spill’s wildlife effects as “minimal.” But the tally of thousands of animals dead and more than 100 undergoing rehabilitation appears to indicate otherwise.

Some were caught by hand but others by pole.

Several small alligators at the spill site were caught by hand, but the larger ones had to be captured with snare poles. Wildlife agents are attempting to catch only specimens that are shorter than 6 feet. “The larger they are, the harder they are to handle,” Carver said. A large share of the alligators are shorter than 2 feet, including 11 hatchlings. Wildlife officials are cleaning and treating alligators at a temporary rehabilitation site near the spill. About a dozen were released this week.

The ruptured pipe seems to be an accident waiting to happen.

In October 2020, an inspection of the 42-year-old pipeline revealed external corrosion along a 22-foot section of pipe in the same area as the spill. But repairs were delayed after an inspection indicated the corrosion was not bad enough to require immediate work, according to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Much of the diesel was contained and cleaned up before it reached nearby waterways, state Oil Spill Coordinator Sam Jones said. A wall along the canal served as a barrier between the fuel and adjacent wetlands and the Gulf of Mexico, he said. About 50,000 gallons of diesel has been recovered, and cleanup of the remaining fuel continues. Collins Pipeline is a subsidiary of New Jersey-based PBF Energy Inc. Collins has not responded to a request for comment.

Pipelines leak and rupture and do do damage to wildlife and the environment. And the industry denies doing harm. Right!

Chalmette oil spill hurt animals
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