Environment & Science

Santa Barbara oil spill: How to help volunteer with clean-up

A worker cleans oil from the rocks and beach at Refugio State Beach in Goleta, California, May 22, 2015. The oil company behind a crude spill on the California coast vowed to do the
A worker cleans oil from the rocks and beach at Refugio State Beach in Goleta, California, May 22, 2015. The oil company behind a crude spill on the California coast vowed to do the "right thing" to clear up the mess, even as reports emerged of past leaks involving its pipelines. Plains All American Pipeline made the pledge as it said nearly 8,000 gallons of oil had been scooped up, out of some 21,000 gallons believed to have flooded into the ocean near Santa Barbara, northwest of Los Angeles.
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Clean up is still happening from the Santa Barbara oil spill that dumped an estimated 101,000 gallons of crude into Refugio State Beach in Goleta on May 19, affecting the ocean and wildlife.

The effort was going “fairly well today, I passed through beaches and we are making good progress,” Yvonne Addassi, deputy administrator at Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, told KPCC. “This is a very culturally and tribally sensitive area so we’ve also been working with those folks as well.”

The DFW has been utilizing volunteers from other organizations since the beginning of the oil spill recovery but is open to more.

“We’ve also heard a lot from the public that they are interested in going out and helping with beach clean up,” said Addassi.

https://twitter.com/CalSpillWatch/status/603289716998316032

So The Department of Fish and Wildlife is now doing training for more beach clean-up volunteers.

Here is what potential volunteers need to know:

Training

California OSHA standards require that volunteers undergo a 4-hour training. After that, they can aid in clean-up under the supervision of the Department of Fish and Wildlife in areas that aren’t as heavily oiled.

Physical requirements

No previous experience is required but volunteers must be at least 18 years of age and in good physical health. Beach clean-up requires walking, leaning over, putting items in bags, and being in the sun.

Dealing with animals

Most volunteers with basic 4-hour training won’t be cleaning up oiled animals, said Addassi. “Most volunteers we use for cleaning up animals have had the 24-hour training and fairly extensive wildlife training,” she noted. But if people are interested in becoming volunteers in that way they can check the Oiled Wildlife Care Network website. The OWCN may require help with related activities like cleaning birdcages and making food for the animals. If anyone in the public sees an oiled or distressed animal, Addassi stresses not touching it or trying to rescue it, but calling 877-UCD-OWCN. “I know it’s really hard seeing oiled wildlife but we ask that you leave that to the professionals,” said Addassi.

How to sign up

Go to the Cal Spill Watch website and fill out the volunteer form. “We will culture those forms and get people into the hazardous communications safety training,” said Addassi. Training opportunities are happening as soon as Thursday, from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Each accepted volunteer will get an email with the training location and from there will be assigned to different locations throughout the response.