Wednesday, September 16, 1998

By Trish Moore, Star-Bulletin
Bruce Anderson, deputy director of Environmental Health,
observes the cleanup at Nukolii Beach with Dave Carter, right,
maintenance manager of Pacific Environmental Corp., which was
contracted by Tesoro Hawaii to clean up the spill.

Public’s help
needed to figure
cost of oil spill

Anyone finding oil-damaged birds or marine life is asked to contact state health officials

By Trish Moore


NUKOLII BEACH, Kauai -- State health officials are asking the public's help to determine how much environmental damage was caused by a leak that dumped about 5,000 gallons of oil into the ocean.

Residents and visitors are being urged to contact the Oil Spill Response Center if they find any evidence of birds or marine life damaged by the oil.

Bruce Anderson, deputy director of environmental health, said he's received reports that some people are burying birds that have been killed by the spill.

The Health Department needs to document evidence in order to recoup damage costs from Tesoro Hawaii, the oil company responsible for the Aug. 24 spill off Barbers Point on Oahu.

The Health Department and other state and federal officials will try to determine the extent of the damage over the next several weeks before negotiating with the company.

"There are ways of projecting what the impacts might be, but the more information we have, the better," Anderson said.

By Trish Moore, Star-Bulletin
In the left hand is a dead crab found on the
beach where most of the oil spilled.
At right is a typical-size tar ball.

Anderson inspected several Kauai beaches yesterday to assess the extent of the spill and observe cleanup efforts.

"I know we're not finding a lot of the birds," he said. "Many are eaten by sharks, and others end up dying in some remote area where we can't find them."

Twenty-nine oiled birds have been recovered so far. Of those, 14 are being treated by state veterinarians and 15 are dead.

David Kimo Frankel, director of the Sierra Club's Hawaii chapter, said the company should be "punished heavily" for the spill.

Truth Contest Vaima "They knew from the start that far more than 10 barrels had been spilled, and they did not tell the public until much later, until after the Coast Guard identified the source of the oil," Frankel said.

Tesoro Hawaii spokesman Nathan Hokama said that by measuring the amount of fuel pumped to the mooring ship, the maximum amount of oil that could have spilled was 117 barrels, or about 5,000 gallons.

"But there are so many other variables, such as how much oil remained in the pipeline" after the pumping was stopped, Hokama said.

The initial estimate of 10 barrels was determined from an aerial survey conducted in conjunction with the Coast Guard the morning after the spill, he said.

When oil and tar began washing up on Kauai shores, Coast Guard officials traced their source to the Tesoro spill.

More than 150 people on Oahu and Kauai have been contracted in the tedious task of removing thousands of tiny bits of oil and tar embedded in the sand on the beaches.

"I'm surprised at how much oil there still is," Anderson said. "What I'm seeing is how difficult it is to get the oil cleaned up."

Workers have to sift through each section of sand to pick out the tar balls, many about the size of BB pellets.

Dragnets balled into "pom-poms" are tied to lines that stretch along the surf to collect much of the tar that is being washed ashore.

Several East Kauai beaches remain closed while they are being cleaned, including Nukolii Beach, which fronts the Outrigger Beach Hotel.

Surveys of the southeastern shoreline of Niihau found no evidence of oil, according to oil spill response officials.

There is no estimate yet of the cost of the cleanup.

Contact numbers

Anyone finding wildlife that appears to have been affected by the oil spill is asked to call 245-1955, ext. 4051 or 4049 on Kauai, or 847-8718 on Oahu.

E-mail to City Desk

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