Friday, April 30, 2010

Volunteers Needed in The Gulf of Mexico

The catastrophic explosion that caused an oil spill from an offshore drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico is reaching the shoreline as of today - Friday, April 30. The leak is currently releasing 5,000 barrels of oil per day, and efforts to manage the spill with controlled burning, dispersal and plugging the leak were unsuccessful Thursday. This oil spill is on track to become the worst oil spill in history, surpassing the damage done by the Exxon Valdez tanker that spilled 11 million gallons of oil into the ecologically sensitive Prince William Sound in 1989. Unlike the Exxon Valdez tragedy, in which a tanker held a finite capacity of oil, this rig is tapped into an underwater oil well and could pump more oil into the ocean indefinitely until the leak is plugged.

As Forbes.com points out - President Obama announced that he will use every resource available to control the oil spill, and has dispatched women leaders like U.S. Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano; Carol Browner, the assistant to the president for Energy and Climate Change; Dr. Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Lisa Jackson, who has organized aircraft in the area to gather information on air quality. It will certainly take leadership to control the devastation, and it will also require volunteers.

How can you help? A number of organizations are recruiting volunteers:

Emergency Louisiana - In response to the oil leaking in the Gulf of Mexico and out of an abundance of caution, state agencies are on alert to ensure that we work to protect Louisiana’s coastline and natural resources in the event that oil reaches our shores. Volunteers are needed.

The Audubon Society, which is affiliated with the Louisiana Coastal Initiative, is making its Center for Birds of Prey in Florida available for bird cleansing and rehabilitation.

The Deep Water Horizon response team is looking for help in identifying shoreline and animals affected. Oiled wildlife should not be captured but instead reported at 1-866-557-1401. To report areas with oil ashore or to leave contact information to volunteer in the affected areas, call 1-866-448-5816.

The Alabama Coastal Foundation is collecting contact information from volunteers for cleanup efforts along the Alabama coast should the oil spill reach the state's shores.

The Mobile Bay National Estuary Program is looking for volunteers to help reduce the potential impact of the oil spill in Mobile Bay.

The Mobile Baykeeper is asking for contact details of volunteers is collecting contact information for volunteers to respond anywhere along the Gulf Coast, if needed.

Save Our Seabirds is a Florida bird rescue group that is looking for volunteers and support as its response team prepares to help oiled wildlife.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this disaster.