More than 100 water birds have been found covered in oil in the wake of a spill at a Louisiana refinery damaged by Hurricane Ida.
The birds have been located “within heavy pockets of crude oil” from the Phillips 66 Alliance Refinery in Belle Chasse, and in flooded fields and retention ponds close by, according to a Thursday news release from the Louisiana Department of Wildlife & Fisheries.
The “growing number” of affected birds has included multiple egret species, black-bellied whistling ducks and blue-winged teal, among other species. Alongside birds, some alligators, otters and nutria were found with oil on them.
The mission to help the animals could take weeks, the department said. By Friday, 10 birds had been caught and brought to a wildlife rehabilitation center, state biologist Jon Wiebe told The Associated Press. Five dead birds had also been removed from the area.
The AP had reported on the Alliance spill after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration captured aerial images showing a sheen of oil on the water. A levee protecting the refinery had failed during the storm, leading to a significant spill of heavy crude oil.
Aerial photos also revealed an oil slick that grew to around 11 miles long in the Gulf of Mexico south of Port Fourchon, the result of a broken pipeline ― the owner of which is currently unclear. Those two spills are among more than 2,000 incidents of water pollution reported off Louisiana’s coasts or in its waterways after Ida, according to The Washington Post.
The fossil fuels contaminating the environment and killing wildlife in the aftermath of the storm are also fueling extreme weather events like hurricanes and severe flooding.
“There’s increasing evidence for an overintensification of the water cycle,” NASA scientist Alex Ruane told HuffPost last month. “Water is moving through the climate system faster than it used to. That means it is being evaporated into the air faster, it’s being moved around, and it’s raining down harder when it does rain.”