Sunday , January 17 2021

The biologist fears that bird mortality may increase after N.L. oil spill



ST. JOHN, N.L. “At least 15 oil seabirds were discovered after the largest oil production in history in Newfoundland, but a biologist says past straits indicate that there may be thousands.

Husky Energy reported observations on Wednesday and confirmed one dead bird, since on Friday, as a result of a strong storm, about 250,000 liters of oil fell into the ocean.

The SeaRose platform attempted to resume production when there was a failure of equipment in the underwater line that released the oil.

Seabird experts say the estimated number of birds killed by smudging may be months, but is likely to increase.

Gail Fraser, a leading seabird biologist at York University, said that even a small number of bird oil observations are troubling and probably a sign of much more significant damage.

“The fact that they found lubricated birds means that there are probably many more lubricated birds there,” said Fraser.

According to her, before the oil spill, the estimates of bird mortality, which grew by thousands, ended.

According to reports, in 2004, in the Terra Nova Strait, which released 165,000 liters of oil into the ocean, about 10,000 birds were killed.

The biologist noted that the incident in Terra Nova had spilled less oil into the ocean, but it happened at the same time of the year as the last incident, meaning that there would be the same number of birds in the area, such as mure and finch.

Fraser said that “millions” of birds migrate to the region from the Arctic at this time of year, and rude weekend conditions mean that it may not be possible to get the exact number of dead birds.

“The conditions were terrible, and it makes it difficult to get good estimates of how many seabirds can be killed,” said Fraser. "It becomes a kind of exercise in the scope of the arms and does everything possible."

According to Fraser, the birds of the region are particularly sensitive to oil pollution. Birds can die from hypothermia, even if a small amount of oil stains their plumage.

They also have a low reproduction rate and long life, which means that a big blow to the population has a big impact.

Fraser believes that these characteristics are not always reflected when companies are fined for infringing on seabird populations.

Syncrude Canada was fined $ 3 million in 2008, when more than 1,600 ducks were killed after landing in a tailing dump. For comparison, Petro-Canada was fined $ 290,000 for the leak of Terra Nova, which is believed to have killed 10,000 birds.

"Killing 10,000 seabirds is a big deal, and this penalty should reflect this."

Scott Tessier, executive director of the Canadian Oil Council Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador, said that no oil spills were found on water on Monday or Tuesday, which means that the oil is likely to be destroyed before extent that it can not be cleaned.

Currently, the board is focused on monitoring wildlife and investigating this incident.

Operators in the offshore industry of Newfoundland are responsible for adhering to their own safety and environmental plans, and the regulatory board monitors and analyzes when necessary.

Trevor Pritchard, senior vice president of Husky Energy in Atlantic-Canada, said his team was following the company's plans and procedures, and his company was investigating what had caused the equipment to malfunction.

“We didn’t see anything, which tells us that we didn’t follow our internal procedures,” Pritchard said.

Husky provides procedures for the regulatory board, but a Husky spokesman said via e-mail that the company "does not disclose its specific working procedures publicly for security and commercial purposes."

Pritchard says that the Huskies will not resume production until they receive "full confidence" in the integrity of the underwater system.

“No one wanted this incident to occur. This is a bad day for us. Can we make a difference, yes we can. “I don’t know what else they are,” Pritchard said.

Holly MacKenzie-Sutter, Canadian Press


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