Department of Ecology News Release - November 18, 2015

Birds saved from White Center spill released today
First oiled ducks and geese complete rehabilitation

WHITE CENTER – Wildlife specialists released 13 wild birds saved from a vegetable oil spill in White Center to the wild today.

The mallard ducks were the first group of rescued birds to complete cleaning and treatment after becoming oiled in a King County neighborhood stormwater pond in early November. Sixty-one more – 27 ducks and 34 geese – remain in treatment. Two additional mallards have died while in care, while two others were euthanized.

The Washington Department of Ecology has been coordinating the response effort, in cooperation with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, which owns the pond. The spill was first reported on Nov. 6.

Oil recovery efforts concluded Tuesday when crews from an environmental cleanup contractor, National Response Corp. (NRC), removed the last cleanup materials from the stormwater pond.

NRC’s sub-contractor, Focus Wildlife International, has captured and treated oiled birds with oversight from WDFW. Focus Wildlife housed and treated the birds at the Progressive Animal Welfare Society Wildlife Center in Lynnwood. WDFW supplied a bird rescue trailer to provide extra space for the effort.

Efforts to locate and recover oiled wildlife will likely continue in White Center and surrounding areas through the end of the week. People who see oiled or distressed birds should call WDFW at 800-22-BIRDS, but should not approach or handle the wildlife. WDFW asks dog and cat owners in the area to keep their pets under control, as oiled birds are less able to escape from animal attacks.

A nearby business, La Mexicana, Inc., has voluntarily accepted responsibility for an accidental spill of salad oil on Oct. 30. The company notified Ecology last week when it suspected it may have been the source of the spill. Ecology investigators verified that the spill occurred at one of the food products producer’s facilities. By law, costs for spill cleanup and wildlife response fall to the party responsible for the spill.

Contacts:

Larry Altose, Ecology communications, 425-649-7009, @EcySeattle

Laura Hayes, Ecology on-scene spill response coordinator, 425-649-7085

Andy Carlson, WDFW oil spill team manager, 360-902-2530