This event is near and dear to my research, as well as me personally. I am following this story closely and I knew from the moment I read “environmental impacts will be minimal” that it was not going to play out that way. I have not posted about it yet because I have been pondering my response and waiting for more evaluation of the potential impacts. However, I can wait no more. While it is going to take a long time to determine the full impact and extent of the damage from this event, there is no doubt in my mind, it is not minimal. Even if it is less than the Exxon Valdez, I would still call it huge. Those that I know of directly involved with the response are working long hours and doing an awesome job; we have an amazing team in NOAA Office of Response and Restoration and other federal agencies.
For the general public looking to help, you might be able to help clean marine debris from the coastlines in anticipation of the oil’s arrival on the shoreline. If debris gets oiled, it has to be specially handled as a part of the cleanup, so removal of debris before it becomes oiled is essential. On the ground oil assessment and cleanup typically requires 40-hour HAZWOPER training and for NOAA, Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Training may be required. I am providing websites I have found helpful so far.
Here are some good resources to keep up with:
For Volunteer and Reporting Opportunities:
- (From NOAA) To report oil on land, or for general community information, please phone 866.448.5816.
- (From NOAA) To report oiled or injured wildlife, please phone 866.557.1401.
- (From NOAA) To learn about volunteer opportunities in all areas and what training is required, please phone 866.448.5816.
Many people may want to help, but will not be able to directly work with the oil spill. I have a few ideas for people who still want to do something… you could clean up marine debris (any trash or debris on any coastline) in your area. Debris can be a transporter of other contaminants besides oil. And debris causes detrimental impacts to wildlife (from entanglement or ingestion) even without being oiled. Keeping coastlines clean has a multitude of positive impacts on human health and the environment no matter the locale. Also, consider conserving gas and energy – without our large demand for oil, we may not need as much offshore drilling. Think about reducing your oil use and about alternative and renewable energy sources. We can use this time to reflect on the true cost of oil as our primary source of energy and how we can strive for a more balanced and integrated energy strategy.