Leaking petroleum puts thousands of migrating birds in danger

Tens of thousands of waterfowl birds are at risk after more than 1,000 gallons of petroleum products have leaked into the Mississippi River near Le Claire, Iowa.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was patrolling along the shore in both Iowa and Illinois Wednesday.

This just two days after a tow boat struck an unknown object in the river and started to sink.

Ed Britton is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and says if the waterfowl is contaminated by the oil, it could also have an impact on other animals.

“As soon as the waterfowl get oil immobile, then eagles come and start feeding on them,” said Britton.

When the eagles feed on an oil soaked waterfowl, the eagle could then die of toxic poisoning.

Fish are also at risk of oil contamination.

Wednesday, the U.S. Coast Guard stated there were approximately 1,300 gallons of petroleum products that have been released into the river.

Of that released, the Coast Guard estimates that 85 to 90 percent of the petroleum has been contained.

But the inconsistent weather conditions have had an impact on the cleanup.

“Mother natures has thrown us a curve ball,” said Lieutenant Colin Fogarty of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Booms which absorb the oil from the water has not been as effective with the windy conditions.

“We have had high winds ranging from 15 to 20 miles per hour and that’s actually forcing some of the diesel fuel to go either under or over the booms,” said Fogarty.

With the ongoing high winds, Fish and Wildlife Services told News 8 they will continue to monitor the area.

“We will be our here continuously until we determine what the environmental impact is. At this time, it seems very minimal and we hope it stays that way,” said Britton.

Aerial view of oil spill near LeClaire, photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard

Aerial view of oil spill near LeClaire, photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard