Friends of the Wild Whoopers (FOTWW) is pleased to learn that the Unified Command responsible for the Texas City oil spill cleanup is taking more responsible
oil removal measures in whooping crane territory. FOTWW expressed serious concerns about intensive methods of cleanup to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service representative serving on the Unified Command. After watching large numbers of workers using heavy equipment on other beaches, FOTWW became alarmed that such aggressive measures might have adverse impacts on the whooping cranes still on the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. Apparently someone listened and responded responsibly.
The Unified Command has issued a statement advising that work along South Matagorda Island will continue “…using a combination of light mechanical equipment and manual tools which include shovels, rakes and buckets.” According to Capt. Randal S. Ogryzdiak, Incident Commander, “Response crews have overcome a series of logistical and environmental challenges to implement an effective and efficient clean-up effort while being acutely sensitive to the fragile wildlife habitat they are working in.” “The Unified Command is pleased with the progress to date, but recognizes there is still important work ahead to complete our clean-up to the satisfaction of the trustees who oversee these environmental, marine and wildlife resources.”
For the present time, FOTWW is now satisfied that the Unified Command is on the right tract and will keep its commitment as Capt. Randal S. Ogryzdiak, Incident Commander advised.
FOTWW will continue to observe the oil spill cleanup and hopes for the best. Our concerns are for the endangered whooping cranes and other wildlife resources along the Texas beaches.
We have posted the following news release from the Texas City “Y” Response Area Command for additional information about the cleanup.
NEWS RELEASE: Texas City “Y” Response Area Command
DATE: April 5, 2014 3:57:00 PM CDT
Update 13: Response efforts continue on South Matagorda Island, Mustang Island and Padre Island National Seashore
PORT O’CONNOR, Texas — Effective shoreline clean-up efforts are on-going, Saturday, along Mustang, South Matagorda and North Padre islands in response to the Texas City oil spill.
As of sunset Friday, response workers have removed a total of 200,775 pounds of oiled sand and oiled debris from the shorelines of Mustang, North Padre and South Matagorda islands. These figures include 102,700 pounds of oiled material from Mustang Island, 93,550 pounds from South Matagorda and 4,525 pounds from shoreline around Bob Hall pier.
Approximately 470 response workers remain active on the coastal shorelines, supported by another 78 persons staffing the Incident Command Post in Port O’Connor.
“Response crews have overcome a series of logistical and environmental challenges to implement an effective and efficient clean-up effort while being acutely sensitive to the fragile wildlife habitat they are working in,” said Capt. Randal S. Ogryzdiak, Incident Commander. “The Unified Command is pleased with the progress to date, but recognizes there is still important work ahead to complete our clean-up to the satisfaction of the trustees who oversee these environmental, marine and wildlife resources.”
Matagorda Island is a unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home of the only naturally wild flock of whooping cranes in existence. Reduced to 50 birds in 1941, the population has grown approximately four percent every year since recovery efforts began and is currently estimated to be 300 birds. The birds migrate 2,500 miles every winter from Wood-Buffalo National Park in Canada to feed in the Aransas’ refuge’s freshwater and brackish marshes. Approximately 30 percent of the population has begun migration and precautions are being taken to ensure the remaining birds on Matagorda Island are not disturbed by clean-up operations. Whooping cranes are one of the rarest birds in North America.
Aggressive work along South Matagorda Island continues using a combination of light mechanical equipment and manual tools which include shovels, rakes and buckets.
There are no new reports of impacted and recovered wildlife. However, persons who observe any impacted wildlife should not attempt to capture or handle them, but are urged to call 888-384-2000.
On Saturday afternoon, U. S. Representative Blake Farenthold toured the Incident Command Post and received a comprehensive briefing on response activities and plans. Congressman Farenthold also participated in an overflight of the south Texas coast to see first-hand the response in action and the condition of coastal shorelines.
The Unified Command continues to work with the Texas Department of Health Services to distribute informational bulletins in both Spanish and English, which detail state policy on the algae-related closures of oyster beds along the Texas coast.
Persons who may observe tar balls are urged to refrain from attempting their own clean-up activities and are asked to call the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 to report the exact locations of any sightings. The public is discouraged from accessing Matagorda Island until the Unified Command announces that response operations are complete.
The Kirby Inland Marine claims line is available to persons who may have questions regarding personal impacts from the incident. The number is 855-276-1275.
More information on the spill response continues to be available through the Matagorda Bay joint information center at 214-225-8007, or at www.texascityYresponse.com
For more information contact:
Matagorda Response JIC
Texas City “Y” Response Area Command
3674 W. Adams St.
Port O’Connor, TX 77982
http://www.texascityyresponse.com/go/doc/6410/2138986/Update-13-Response-efforts-continue-on-South-Matagorda-Island-Mustang-Island-and-Padre-Island-National-Seashore ; To read FOTWW previous article abut the oil spill go to : https://friendsofthewildwhoopers.org/concerns-mounting-effects-oil-spill-whooping-cranes/