The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Major Oil Spill Contaminates 1,000 Birds in Rotterdam Harbor
Environmental groups and volunteers are working to save about 1,000 oil-covered birds after a freighter spilled heavy fuel oil into a Rotterdam harbor on Saturday, the Netherlands' Sea Creatures Rescue Team estimated to Reuters.
Odfjell, the owner of the freighter Bow Jubail, said the vessel crashed into a jetty while mooring and accidentally ruptured its hull, releasing 217 tons of heavy fuel oil into the water.
Swans, gulls, geese and cormorants were contaminated by the oil, according to BBC News. Emergency workers trying to rescue the animals were said to be overwhelmed by the numbers.
The slick has covered a six-mile radius in the harbor, BBC News reported, citing local media. Hundreds of birds are still thought to be in the water.
"I haven't yet seen a swan untouched by the oil. It's a real catastrophe," adviser Claude Velter told Dutch TV.
About 250 oil-stained swans were taken to the animal shelter Vogelklas Karel Schot in Rotterdam on Sunday.
"The birds are now stabilized," the rescue center said in a Facebook post. "In addition to food and water, they need rest. It is expected that the first birds in the next few days will be stable enough to be washed."
André de Baerdemaker, a spokesperson for Vogelklas, told Dutch broadcaster RTL News on Monday that the swans came through well overnight.
"Fortunately we have not seen any dead birds yet, but I hear that possibly dead animals have been found elsewhere," de Baerdemaker noted. "They are now extra vulnerable to infections and tomorrow we will assess which animals are strong enough to be washed."
De Baerdemaker explained (via NL Times) that the oil can potentially leak through a swan's plumage. "This causes them to get wet and hypothermic and they lose energy. Then they can't collect enough food."
Other animal rescues in The Hague and Hook of Holland also took in affected birds, BBC News reported. But as of Monday, the large overflow of impacted animals prompted state officials to set up a emergency center in a car park in the city of Maassluis.
The Port of Rotterdam said Sunday a clean-up operation was underway.
"Experts expect that clean-up work will take days if not weeks," the Port said.
Odfjell said it "regrets the unfortunate incident and takes this matter very seriously." The company said the leakage was stopped, and there is no risk of further spills.
The company is also cooperating with Dutch authorities to "mitigate the consequences of the spill" and has set up an incident investigation team to identify the root causes.
Harbour master René de Vries told Dutch TV (via BBC News) he could not remember a spill on such a scale in the past decade. "Rotterdam was a clean harbor until Saturday and we want to keep it that way."
- Deadly oil spill devastates Borneo port city – in pictures ... ›
- The nine biggest marine oil spills in history ›
- A sponge that absorbs oil | Port of Rotterdam ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jared Kaufman
Eating a better diet has been linked with lower levels of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. But unfortunately 821 million people — about 1 in 9 worldwide — face hunger, and roughly 2 billion people worldwide are overweight or obese, according to the U.N. World Health Organization. In addition, food insecurity is associated with even higher health care costs in the U.S., particularly among older people. To help direct worldwide focus toward solving these issues, the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals call for the elimination of hunger, food insecurity and undernutrition by 2030.
mevans / E+ / Getty Images
Calls for Radical Climate Action Grow Louder as NOAA Reports Last Month Was Hottest June Ever Recorded
By Jessica Corbett
As meteorologists warned Thursday that temperatures above 100°F are expected to impact two-thirds of the country this weekend, U.S. government scientists revealed that last month was the hottest June ever recorded — bolstering calls for radical global action on the climate emergency.
By John R. Platt
For years now conservationists have warned that many of Madagascar's iconic lemur species face the risk of extinction due to rampant deforestation, the illegal pet trade and the emerging market for the primates' meat.
Yes, people eat lemurs, and the reasons they do aren't exactly what we might expect.