Forwarded from BIRDCHAT- Pallas Oil Spill

To: "Birding-aus" <>
Subject: Forwarded from BIRDCHAT- Pallas Oil Spill
From: "Trevor Quested" <>
Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 20:55:23 +1100
This may open up a can of worms but please for those of you interested please
read and act upon the following information.  For those of you who may not be
interested, please forgive me for posting this.  This info has been edited so
excuse me if some information is me personally if you would
like additional info...

Anna Kopitov

Santa Cruz, CA
Notes on Pallas Oil Spill in Germany -

The areas affected most badly are the islands Foehr and Amrum. Dead birds

have also been found on the island Sylt and on the shores of the main land.

We estimate that about 15,000 birds (mostly eider and scoter ducks, also

some waders) have died due to exposure to the bunker fuel from the wreck.

Official counts are much lower, they run around 8,000 dead birds. We don´t

believe that the official numbers are reliable , mainly because they are

based solely on the counts of the administration of the National Reserve

Park Wadden Sea.

However, several groups have been involved in killing the birds and

gathering and getting rid of the cadavers, and some of them are very

interested in playing down the extent of the disaster so as not to ruin the

image of one of North Germany´s most important tourist attractions.

More birds may still be affected as the wreck still has not been recovered

and several hundred tons of bunker fuel are still in the tanks. The vessel

is grounded and there is a crack in the hull. If a storm mounts before all

of the fuel is recovered, the ship will most likely be torn apart, resulting

in another major spill.

What worries us even more are the 150 tons of diesel fuel that may yet spill

from the Pallas, posing an immense threat to the habitat of many waders.

2. Official politics

The government of the state Schlewsig-Holstein, the administration of the

National Reserve Park Wadden Sea and the most influential environment groups

in the region, the "Schutzstation Wattenmeer" ("Wildlife Care Station Wadden

Sea") and the WWF still recommend to kill each and every oiled animal. Dr.

Roesner, Director of the WWF Wadden Sea Project publicly denies that any

statistics on the survival rates of washed and rehabilitated birds exist and

denounces any attempt to save an oiled bird as a cruel prolongation of its


The usual way of killing an oiled bird in Germany is to either club it to

death or to take it by the neck and fling it back and forth until the spine

breaks. This is a traditional way of killing birds in Northern Germany

called "ringeln". Our teams are the only ones that kill birds that have no

chance of survival with injections. According to the "Schutzstation

Wattenmeer" it is not possible to kill a bird with an injection because in

order to do so you would have to reach the inner organs by penetrating the

breastbone. They also say that an oil patch the size of a quarter means

certain death to a bird. Lothar Koch, director of "Schutzstation

Wattenmeer": "It is an illusion to think it´s possible to save the


National media are reproducing these opinions, so the public image of our

work is not very good.

The situation is even more alarming regarding seals. It is absolutely

illegal in Germany to try to save an oiled seal. Any attempt to do so can be

punished with six months in jail. Even though there are very well equipped

oiled wildlife care stations in the Netherlands that have several years of

experience in saving oiled birds and seals, it is illegal to transport an

oiled seal over the border. The only legal way to "treat" it is to shoot it.

What we would like to ask of you

What we are trying to do now is raise public awareness for the importance of

preparing for and responding to oil spills endangering wildlife. Our goal is

to change environmental policy here in Germany, which has cost the life of

thousands of birds and is continuing to do so.

For this end I would now like to ask for you support. I include in this

e-mail the fax numbers and addresses of the German chancellor, the German

Environment minister, the Prime Minister and the Environment Minister of

Schleswig-Holstein. You would tremendously aid us in our efforts if you

would send letters of support to them stating your concern about the

situation here in Germany and that you recommend a change towards active

wildlife care and rescue. I also include a draft of a support letter

including the statements we deem most vital. This is of course only meant as

a _suggestion_, we leave it up to you to write what you think is most


In any case, please send me a copy of any letter you write to any of the

mentioned recipients so that we can keep an overview on how things are going


Please also pass this request on to as many colleagues and institutions as


I´d like to thank all of you for your ongoing support, for sending us

information and keeping interested in our efforts by e-mail, phone, fax or

personal visits. This has been and continues to be very very encouraging!



The Environment Minister of the state of Schleswig-Holstein:

Mr. Rainder Steenblock

Minister fuer Umwelt, Natur und Forsten

Postfach 6209

24123 Kiel


Fax: +49 431 / 988-7209

The Prime Minister of Schleswig-Holstein:

Mrs. Heide Simonis

Ministerpraesidentin des Landes Schleswig-Holstein

Duesternbrooker Weg 70

24100 Kiel


Fax: +49 431 / 988-1960

The German Federal Environment Minister:

Mr. Juergen Trittin

Bundesminister für Umwelt, Naturschutz und Reaktorsicherheit

Postfach 120629

53048 Bonn


Fax +49 228 305-3225

The German Chancellor:

Mr. Gerhard Schroeder

Kanzler der Bundesrepublik Deutschland


53 Bonn


e-mail via WWW:


Draft for letter of support:

Dear Mr... / Mrs....,

we are deeply concerned about the reports we receive on the "Pallas" oil

spill in Germany´s Wadden Sea. It is incomprehensible to us that government

authorities undertake no effort whatsoever to try to save the wildlife in

this unique nature reserve affected by a man-made disaster.

That the victims of this disaster are being systematically killed instead of

providing them with the help that they need seems utterly scandalous to us.

Oil spills are not the doings of nature, but of humans, and accordingly it

is unacceptable and cynical to leave it to nature to cope with them.

It is time that the considerable advances that have been made in the

treatment of oiled wildlife are acknowledged by those in charge of wildlife

care in the German North Sea area. At this very moment, internationally

renowned experts are working on Foehr and Amrum alongside German volunteers

to save oiled animals. However, their work and their know-how is being

blatantly ignored or even impaired, they are excluded from all crisis

committees and decision-making processes. At the same time, unexperienced

young men doing community service are encharged with killing oiled animals

in unacceptably cruel ways.

This uncaring nature "conservancy" is as shameful as it is scientifically

unsound, and we urgently ask you to put an end to the senseless killing.
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