Two recent spills highlight the importance of preparedness, and remind us that not all spills are in marine environments. The spill that Nancy mentioned in her blog last week involved a pipeline in Utah that leaked about 27,000 gallons of diesel into Willard Bay Reservoir. Fortunately for the reservoir (and those that depend on the drinking water it provides), the spill was largely contained by a beaver dam. Unfortunately for the beavers, they got heavily contaminated with diesel. Six beavers –one adult and five juveniles–were taken into care at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah (wrcnu.org).
Diesel fuel is volatile petroleum product that causes skin burns and damage to sensitive tissues of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. The beavers were drenched in diesel and arrived at the center with damage to their skin, mouths, gastrointestinal tracts, and nasal passages. They are getting excellent care and all of them are now eating on their own, but they have a long way to go before they are back to normal. That’s the thanks they get for building the dam that protected the bay! The Center’s website has links to various videos and articles about the spill: http://wrcnu.org/view/full_story_4testing/22157004/article-Six-Beavers-arrive-at-the-Wildlife-Rehabilitation-Center-of-Northern-Utah?instance=homefeatured
A larger pipeline spill in Arkansas has gotten more press, perhaps partly for the dramatic photos of “rivers” of oil flooding the suburban community of Mayflower. Twenty-two homes were evacuated and numerous species of wildlife have been affected, although total numbers of live animals in care have not been reported. The pipeline was carrying a heavy product similar to that which is likely to run through the proposed–and highly controversial–Keystone XL pipeline. Inevitably, this spill has added fodder to the objections raised against the Keystone XL pipeline; one interesting article can be found here: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/04/6_things_you_need_to_know_about_the_arkansas_oil_spill_partner/
Over 200,000 gallons of petroleum were spilled in Arkansas, and they are still investigating the cause. If you want to follow the official news releases from the Mayflower Incident Unified Command, click on this link and look for the pdfs in the lower right hand corner: http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/safety_response_arkansas.aspx