By: Heather Hammers, Marine/Coastal Sustainability Agent
As the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico unfolds over the next few weeks, the need for appropriate support from citizens is expected to increase. Many are concerned about the potential damage to sensitive marine areas and associated marine life.
Although oil has not yet come ashore in Florida, oil is a hazardous material that requires specialized handling. Assisting injured animals may seem like a great idea; however, in disasters what seems helpful can be harmful and even dangerous. Individuals and organizations that wish to participate in a potential cleanup will be required to obtain hazardous material training. This training is specifically for contractors, veterinarians, and wildlife paraprofessionals doing work at staging areas. BP has contracted with PEC Premier to provide this training.
How Volunteers Can Help
Volunteers will not be allowed to handle contaminated materials or wildlife. However, volunteers can support the oil cleanup effort through a number of activities, including:
• Florida’s Coast Watch Program
• Volunteer Florida
• Tampa Bay Watch
• BP Oil Response Training Module 1 -- basic oil spill education and training for individuals who will never come in contact with spilled oil. This training is particularly suited for volunteers who can help with beach cleanup in anticipation of a spill reaching land.
•If you want to volunteer to help wildlife affected by oil spill affected by oil spill go to http://www.audubonaction.org/ and fill out their volunteer registration form. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service also has a toll-free number for volunteers to help save wildlife affected by the oil spill may sign up by calling 1-866-448-5816.
Report an Oil Sighting
• Report Oil Shoreline -- 1-866-448-5816
• Report Oiled Wildlife-- 1-866-557-1401 -- leave a message. Messages will be checked hourly. Be prepared to provide information on the location of the animal sighted.
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