The oily bird gets the clean


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July 26, 2016 12:00 AM

Rescue workers clean the oil from a Canada Goose that got in too deep after a pipeline breach last week leaked hundreds of thousands of litres of oil into the North Saskatchewan River.

An animal rescue group is asking people to stop donating items to help clean wildlife affected by a recent oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River.
“Right now, given that we don’t know what’s coming in, I’m just going to say hang on to those supplies right now and kind of just put a hold on some of the donations,” said Jan Shadick, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with Living Sky Rehabilitation who’s working with a group of like-minded rescuers in Maidstone.
“It can actually be more stressful to receive a whole bunch of donations that we don’t know what to do with and we can’t use.”
At this point, with only three birds that need cleaning, Shadick said she doesn’t know how many animals were affected by the Thursday’s spill that dumped as much as 250,000 litres of oil into the river near Maidstone.
“I haven’t seen the site, I have absolutely no idea,” she said.
“My understanding is, because they did a quick reconnaissance of the initial site and they found these three birds, and so they were anticipating the potential for hundreds.”
The three birds found that were covered in oil were a Canada Goose, a Great Blue Herring, and a sparrow that succumbed to the oil.
“We cleaned up just their face, their eyes and nose and mouth, and because the initial important piece with these birds that are coming in cold, hungry and dehydrated and stressed, is to stabilize them,” said Shadick.
“So we did that exam, we stabilized them, we got some fluid and food into them and basically are doing maintenance support work in that manner since yesterday and today.”
Shadick added rescuers— which include members from the provincial organization, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan (WSOS), Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation and Lend a Paw—are taking their time in dealing with the oily birds.
“You want to wait at least 48 hours to make sure they’re in good stable physical condition because washing the bird is enormously stressful on them,” she said.
“So they have to be able to survive the process or it’s a bit of a moot point.”
Husky Energy detected an oil spill Thursday, approximately 30 km east of Lloydminster where the North Saskatchewan River crosses Highway 21.
Indeed, an oily sheen, with numerous, heavy gobs of what appeared to be a heavy oil mass, could be seen that afternoon, flowing east with the river towards Maidstone, Sask., the nearest town to the leak.
Husky officials said last week they shut the pipeline—a line running from the company’s heavy oil operation to processing facilities in Lloydminster—on its Saskatchewan Gathering System, a move that isolated and halted the release of oil.
The pipeline transports blended heavy oil and diluent (a thinning agent) and the total amount spilled is estimated at 200 to 250 cubic meters, or about 200,000 to 250,000 litres.
“Cleanup crews and equipment were immediately deployed to the site and response actions have been taken,” Mel Duvall, media and issues manager for Husky, said in an emailed statement.
“Berms are in place at the site and containment booms have been deployed along the river, air and shoreline surveillance is under way and a water monitoring and sample testing program is in place.”
A second berm is in place further downstream near Paynton, Sask.
Meanwhile, animal rescuers will continue to seek out wildlife affected by the leak.
“I think they’re going to be looking at different parts of the river, so we have another opportunity to potentially receive many birds or no birds,” said Shadick, who asked the public to stay away from the site.
“Let the people do their jobs,” she advised.
“One of my concerns of course, is this is a moving spill so it’s moving down river, and there are likely to be more wildlife impacted on a long term basis here.”

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