Gulls killed by cooking oil spill on Cuyahoga River

3 07 2009


Hundreds of gulls were killed by what appeared to be a cooking oil spill

Hundreds of gulls were killed by what appeared to be a cooking oil spill

In an unfortunate irony, hundreds of Ring-Billed Gulls were killed when a substance appearing to be cooking oil flowed out of a sewer pipe into the Cuyahoga River in Ohio. Environmentalists had just celebrated the river’s remarkable comeback 40 years after it became an icon of industrial pollution and a major inspiration for the passage of the Clean Water Act. 

Sewer workers noticed a sheen on the water earlier in the week and placed containment booms to limit the oil’s spread. Soon after, they had to contact the EPA and report that the oil had escaped the booms and was spreading downriver, matting the feathers of a large flock of resident gulls on the river and killing them. An estimated 500 gulls were found dead due to the spill and an additional 30-40 gulls were humanely euthanized. It appears that no other species were affected, and the Ring-Billed population in Cleveland has reached nuisance levels, so wildlife management officials elected not to attempt to rehabilitate the affected birds. 

Officials have yet to identify the source of the oil, or determine who dumped it. The Cuyahoga River runs through an industrial area, but clean up efforts over the past decades had made it one of the success stories of the Clean Water Act. This spill illustrates the need for constant vigilance and continued dedication to maintaining clean waterways. SEANET will continue to follow this story and inform our readers if and when the source of the oil can be determined.



One response

29 12 2009
Oiled Gulls in Gloucester, MA « SEANET Blog

[…] the cause of this event will be determined. The SEANET blogger is struck by the similarities to an oiling event in Ohio earlier this year. In that incident, cooking oil spilled out of a sewage treatment plant into the […]

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