18,000 Gallons of Oil Spill Into Louisiana Wildlife Refuge

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A bird dips into water polluted by oil in Louisiana.

landbysea / Getty Images

Officials have reported that an estimated 18,000 gallons of crude oil have spilled into a Louisiana wildlife refuge 60 miles outside of New Orleans. The rupture occurred in a Chevron oil pipeline, and an evaluation of the damage to the ecosystem is underway. What's known is that the spill has created a 5 mile long slick, and occurred in a remote area so difficult to access that caretakers weren't able to reach it.The afflicted area is the Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and it's known for being home to a number of bird rookeries, and provides migrating birds a place to rest. It's also a permanent home to a number of species of water fowl, including many ducks. It covers a total of 49,000 acres of marshland.

The Associated Press reports:

The refuge, a temporary or permanent home to hundreds of thousands of wading birds and waterfowl, is accessible only by boats which can cross the Mississippi River in an area busy with oceangoing ships.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents headquartered in Venice, 10 miles away, were not on a Coast Guard aircraft that flew over the refuge Tuesday to evaluate the damage and had not been able to get in by boat, said Christie Watkins, an agency spokeswoman in Atlanta.

The spill was first learned about 1 am on Tuesday, and so far has only been observed by helicopter--crews are making their way to the site, and Chevron has said that it has closed off the leaking section.
So far there have been no reports of injured birds--let's hope it stays that way.