Most of the 133,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the Delaware River from the Liberian tanker Olympic Games last week has either evaporated or has been removed by cleanup crews, the Coast Guard said yesterday.
And the tanker - its ruptured hull patched and inspected for soundness, was moved to a new anchorage near Philadelphia. It is expected to sail later instead of going into drylock for repairs.
Meanwhile, the oil left its causualties - the birds.
The Coast Guard has been operating bird treatment stations at Salem, N.J., and Wilmington, Del., and by Thursday night 218 birds had been washed and dried and given medicine, and another 135 birds had died.
In WIlmington, in a downtown garage donated to help the birds, 75 to 80 volunteers had already worked at the center in the 48 hours since the center opened Wednesday.
Several young veterinary medicine students gave the birds steroid injections and fed them a mixture of dextrose, water and milk of magnesia. The steroids and dextrose were to give the birds energy and lessen shock, and the milk of magnesia to get rid of the coil ingested during the birds' futile attempts to pree.
"They naturally preen themselves to get rid of the oil, and that's the worst thing they can do," said Eileen Hathaway, a student at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Medicine School. "They swallow the oil and that's what kills them. That's why we tape their bills shut."
At the same time, other volunteers washed the ducks and geese in three different baths of detergent and water and three rinses.
The birds were then dried with heaters and towels and put into a large cage area made of bales of hay and chicken wire. Total time for a complete wash and dry job: four hours.
A photographer tourned the area as far north as National Park, N.J., and was surprised to find very little oil on the beaches and no dead or dying ducks or geese. The spill ultimately grew to a length of more than 30 miles.