Report from Alaska: International Bird Rescue mobilized as a precaution in stalled drill ship incident

The U.S. Coast Guard evacuates crew members on the Kulluk drilling unit. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sara Francis.

ANCHORAGE — International Bird Rescue’s senior wildlife response team has been activated as a contingency measure after a tow pulling the drilling vessel Kullak stalled Thursday in stormy seas near Alaska’s Kodiak Island, prompting an evacuation of its 18-person crew. See Incident Command updates: 2012 Shell Alaska Aiviq tow – Gulf of Alaska incident

As of Sunday, the Aiviq tugboat towing the Royal Dutch Shell drilling unit had regained power to all four of her engines. The tug and drill ship had previously been drifting approximately 27 miles east of the Trinity Islands, which is part of the Gulf of Alaska unit of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. A second tug has secured to the Kulluk with a third in the vicinity for emergency support.

Shell has set up a full Incident Command Post in Anchorage, and four International Bird Rescue response team members are working with the Wildlife Branch at the Command Center.

“We are very pleased that Shell is being proactive about any potential impacts to wildlife by having us on site to plan and prepare,” said International Bird Rescue director Jay Holcomb.

International Bird Rescue has extensive oil spill response experience in Alaska, including the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, where our staff spent six months managing three bird centers and two search-and-collection programs.

In November, International Bird Rescue responded to oiled wildlife found on Alaska’s St. Lawrence Island and rehabilitated at our Alaska Wildlife Response Center.

Read the latest report on the vessels here via Anchorage Daily News and stayed tuned for updates on this blog.

Interactive map: International Bird Rescue’s historic spill response efforts in Alaska

View International Bird Rescue: Historical spill response efforts in Alaska in a larger map

About us: International Bird Rescue (IBR) is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that has been helping seabirds and other aquatic birds around the world since 1971. IBR’s Oil Spill Response Team has led oiled wildlife rescue efforts in more than 200 oil spills in a dozen countries around the world.

International Bird Rescue maintains an oiled wildlife response team comprising trained and experienced emergency managers, professional wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, biologists and other wildlife experts.

International Bird Rescue is committed to reducing the impact of oil on wildlife by releasing the highest possible number of animals back into the wild. To do this most effectively, International Bird Rescue works cooperatively with the Responsible Party (RP) and the state and federal agencies. Animals being treated at the rehabilitation center must move through the system as quickly as possible.