FAIRFIELD (KCBS)— International Bird Rescue in Fairfield says the State of California will not reimburse them for the money they spent cleaning up hundreds of birds injured during the recent “mystery goo” spill in the Bay.
Because the substance, which never was identified, was not petroleum-based, the state— by law, cannot cover the expenses of the cleanup, sticking the rescue organization with a running out-of-pocket tab of $150,000 so far.
On Monday, State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, announced legislation that would protect wildlife in the case of a marine spill involving a non-petroleum-based substance.
Senate Bill 718 was jointly authored by Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, and was inspired by the goo, which killed more than 200 birds and left many more injured.
The bill would address a gap in the law that exists when the pollutant in question has not been identified.
“California has a sophisticated oil spill response system, but in the unique event when a pollutant is unidentified, there is no clear funding mechanism for the cleanup,” Leno said in a statement.
“This legislation clarifies that the state’s top priority during a spill of any kind is to immediately protect waterways and wildlife, regardless of what type of substance caused the problem,” he said.
SB 718 would allow for a faster response time in the event of a non-petroleum-based spill by allowing the state Office of Spill Prevention and Response to borrow up to $500,000 from the state’s oil spill prevention fund for the rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife had said that the substance coated the birds’ feathers, capillaries and veins so that they can’t regulate the temperature.
San Francisco Baykeeper and Audubon California are co-sponsors of the bill.
Birds covered in the mysterious substance first started appearing on East Bay shores on Jan. 16.
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