Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Like Oil and Water: Measuring the Impact of Oil Spills on Washington Coastlines

Submitted by: Cindy Schexnider 

Resources for oil spill responses are limited and vary among agencies. The challenge of managing oil spills is increasing in scope and size. Oil spills are of particular concern where there is extensive refining and transport, such as along the Washington Coastlines. Birds can be heavily impacted by even a small spill and large spills can affect thousands of birds.

Oiled Common Murre Photo credit: USFWS
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), 33 U.S.C. § 2701 et seq., establishes liability for cleanup costs and for damages for the restoration of natural resources and related services injured by oil spills. When a spill occurs, Natural Resource Trustees may conduct a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) to evaluate injuries to natural resources and determine appropriate actions to restore those injured resources to their pre-spill condition. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife provided a free training course on collecting bird injury assessment data in the event of an oil spill. The training course was offered to Service partners who may be involved in addressing bird impacts in an oil spill in Western Washington. The training events were held at the Everett Community College in Everett, WA on June 27 and repeated at the Olympic Natural Resources Center in Forks, WA on June 28, 2013.

The training provided guidance on effectively collecting bird injury data in the early phases of an oil spill to support NRDA and restoration efforts. There are many simultaneous components of an oil spill response, this training focused on assessing bird injury to support the NRDA for a Western Washington/Oregon oil spill.

To learn more about the bird injury assessment training visit:

To learn more about the Washington Fish and Wildlife Office's Environmental Contaminants Program visit:

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