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Why Burn a Marsh Oiled by Two Hurricanes?

Six panels each showing an image of birds
A man and a woman sitting in a small boat.
Two cows standing in a marsh
Thick marshland next to canal.
Warning sign in a marsh with inset photo of damaged sign
Small blades of grass in a blackened marsh.
An oil tank with black smoke bowing over and above it.
A large patch of burned marsh in the middle of an area of green marsh.
Woman walking away from black smoke.
Man examining oil in a pond.
Aerial view of damaged oil tank.
Large oil tanks with oiled marsh in background
Pig walking next to a worker.
Alligator crawling on a gravelly surface.
Six panels each showing an image of birds
Bird species populateg the once-oiled marsh

Ten years after the 2005 hurricanes that caused this marsh to become oiled, it is home to many species of birds. Top row images from left to right: Killdeer, Glossy Ibis, and Snowy Egret. Bottom row left image: Wilson's Snipe (top), Black-necked Stilt (center), Mottled Duck (bottom). Bottom row, middle and right images: Black-necked Stilt and Black-bellied Whistling-Duck.

Credit: NOAA
A man and a woman sitting in a small boat.
Touring the marsh, ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

Ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Chevron wildlife biologist and environmental engineer Jim Myers toured the marsh with NOAA's Vicki Loe. The storms caused oil to spill into the marsh which was subsequently burned to remove the oil. Jim Myers was there soon after the storms in 2005 and was part of the team that planned the burn.

Credit: NOAA
Two cows standing in a marsh
Animals living in the marsh, ten years after an oil spill caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005

When Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused oil to spill into this marsh in 2005, it was determined that the best way to remove the oil was to burn it. The marsh recovered quickly and ten years later, it is home to animals such as grazing cattle, feral pigs, alligators, fiddler crabs, as well as insects, snakes and birds.

Credit: NOAA
Thick marshland next to canal.
Healthy marsh, ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita

The marsh that was oiled after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and subsequently burned to remove the oil, showing an abundance of diverse vegetation ten years later.

Credit: NOAA
Warning sign in a marsh with inset photo of damaged sign
Pipeline sign in the marsh--soon after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and almost ten years later

A sign warning boaters of a buried pipeline in the marsh. Inset is a photo of a sign damaged by the 2005 hurricanes at the same place almost ten years earlier.

Credit: NOAA
View of the marsh during the burn and almost ten years later

Similar views of the same marsh where the 2005 oil spill and subsequent burn occurred after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The view on the right is from August of 2015.

Credit: NOAA
Small blades of grass in a blackened marsh.
Regrowth of grasses soon after the marsh burn

Soon after the burn was conducted to remove spilled oil in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes, signs of regrowth appeared.

Credit: NOAA
An oil tank with black smoke bowing over and above it.
Smoke from the burning marsh blows over the damaged oil tank

The thick, black smoke from the burning marsh as it blew back over the oil tank, which had spilled oil into the nearby marsh after being damaged by the hurricanes of 2005.

Credit: NOAA
A large patch of burned marsh in the middle of an area of green marsh.
Footprint of the burned marsh

The burn, conducted to remedy oil spilled during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita into a marsh behind the oil pipeline facility, left a large blackened area in the marsh.

Credit: NOAA
Woman walking away from black smoke.
NOAA Scientist at site of marsh burn

Dr. Amy Merten walking near where the burn was started at the edge of the marsh.

Credit: NOAA
Oil being burned off of the marsh on the first of two days

Lit with propane torches, the fire on the first day was dramatic, generating dense black smoke and burning for three hours, the result of burning the part of the marsh closest to the terminal, where the oil was thickest.

Credit: NOAA
Man examining oil in a pond.
Chevron environmental engineer surveys the spilled oil after 2005 hurricanes

Chevron wildlife biologist and environmental engineer Jim Myers examines oil in a retention pond at the terminal after damage to a tank caused oil to spill.

Credit: NOAA
Aerial view of damaged oil tank.
Oil tank damaged during Hurricane Katrina

During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, one of the terminal’s storage tanks was severely damaged on top, possibly after being hit by something extremely large carried by the storm waters.

Credit: NOAA
Large oil tanks with oiled marsh in background
Chevron Pipe Line Company’s oil terminal and oiled marsh

Oil tanks in front of oiled marsh where during Hurricane Katrina, the tank at right was damaged spilling oil. Hurricane Rita then pushed the oil further out into the marsh.

Credit: NOAA
Pig walking next to a worker.
Feral pig that survived Hurricane Katrina in a marsh

A feral pig in the area of the marsh in October of 2005 that was burned to remove spilled oil after Hurricane Katrina and Rita.

Credit: NOAA
Alligator crawling on a gravelly surface.
Alligator that survived Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in a marsh

An alligator that lived in the marsh where an in situ burn was conducted in October of 2005 to remove oil spilled after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Credit: NOAA
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