Oil Slick Investigation: Bonny Schumaker’s “On Wings of Care” Continues to Keep a Watchful Eye on Gulf


When reports of significant new oil slicks and spills make the rounds, it provides comfort knowing that we have independent researchers keeping a watchful eye on the Gulf and keeping our public officials honest. That was the case over the weekend as we heard about a large oil slick in the Gulf, which authorities are still researching.

According to WKRG-TV out of Mobile, the Coast Guard is reporting that it has “…collected samples from a dark substance floating on and beneath the surface of the water in the Gulf of Mexico. The USCG collected the samples as a response to a handful of reports of the substance, which some described as oil sheen, floating just a few miles off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. One report suggested it stretched 100 miles out into the Gulf… the samples were taken Saturday and the results showed that the dark substance did in fact contain petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and grease. The substance was analyzed using the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s standards for clean, which is less than 65 parts per million for petroleum and 10,000 parts per million for oil and grease. The results that came back on the oily substance showed around 8 parts per million for petroleum and 86 ppm for oil and grease.”

The Coast Guard says that the dark substance is believed to be caused by sediment being carried down the Mississippi River following dredging operations and high water. However, the USCG says that the oily substance is not, at this time, suspected to be from the Deepwater Horizon spill site.

The alarm bell for the expanse of “substance” floating on the surface of the Gulf came largely from the nonprofit enviro group “On Wings of Care” headed by pilot Bonny Schumaker. Her California-based aviation organization once again distinguished itself during these reports as one of the few frontline, eyewitness sources. Ms. Schumaker, who was one of the first to report the slick, focuses her important work on animal welfare – both domestic and wild – but her efforts extend to research, transports and environmental advocacy. It’s not the first time Ms. Schumaker’s group has been on the leading edge of Gulf issues, and it won’t be the last.

We’ve noted before that if you want to help out with the Gulf spill aftermath, then “On Wings of Care” is a good place to consider (see website below) for donations. After leading the weekend investigation, Ms. Schumaker and her group are back on the scene this week. They have posted that “…we’re planning to head back down to Grand Terre Island tomorrow to assess the actual extent and coordinates for the visible perimeter of this spill, and to search again for stressed or dead wildlife.”

The group also posts information like this: “[Authorities] also say that they have taken samples and that ‘analytical results’ are ‘forthcoming.'”

That report can be viewed at: http://www.wwl.com/Jefferson-official-on-reported-oil-slick/9437034

Here’s the WKRG report on the situation: http://www.wkrg.com/gulf_oil_spill/article/coast-guard-continues-investigating-gulf-substance/1205617/Mar-20-2011_10-17-pm/

Here’s the On Wings of Care website, where you can donate via PayPal: http://www.onwingsofcare.org/

© Smith Stag, LLC 2011 – All Rights Reserved

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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