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Amid cleanup of mystery tar-like substance along Oregon, Wash. coast, public urged to avoid material, keep pets away

(Update: Adding video, Saturday report on cleanup efforts; source still unknown)

ASTORIA, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Responders continued surveying and cleanup efforts Saturday for a tar-like substance washing up on shorelines and impacting wildlife since last Sunday from Long Beach, Washington to south of Newport.

"To support the response, avoid contact with the tar balls and do not try to clean them up yourself – leave that to the responders," said Saturday's update, which continues in full below:

Coastal visitors are encouraged to avoid touching or handling the tar balls or other oily material. Dogs and other pets should also be kept away from these materials.

Tar balls are sticky and can get on skin, hair and clothing. If this happens, wash the area with soap or degreasing dishwashing detergent and water. Avoid using solvents, gasoline, kerosene, diesel fuel or similar products.

If you see oiled birds or other wildlife, report it to 1-800-22-BIRDS (1-800-222-4737). Untrained handling of affected wildlife is dangerous to the animals and any individuals attempting to help.

Multiple oil spill response organizations with trained personnel and equipment are actively working to address impacted areas and priority, high-visitation sites. Please leave cleanup to professional responders who are trained and equipped to handle this type of material.

Responders will conduct aerial surveillance operations throughout the weekend to determine the substance's source. The public is asked to refrain from recreational drone usage in affected areas where aerial surveillance is conducted.

The Unified Command responding to this incident is led by the U.S. Coast Guard, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Washington Department of Ecology. They are testing samples to determine the source of the tar-like substance, but results are not expected until later next week.

Multiple oiled birds – mostly common murres – have been observed and recovered for treatment at various locations in southern Washington and the central and northern Oregon coast.

The oil spill response organizations NWFF Environmental and NorthWest HazMat have been contracted for beach cleanup operations in Cannon Beach and Lincoln City.

Members from the Coast Guard Pacific Strike Team from Novato, Calif., traveled to the affected area to provide trained personnel and resources to support the ongoing response.

Untrained handling of affected wildlife is dangerous to the animals and any individuals attempting to help, they said.

Agencies involved in this response are:

News release:

WCNC Seeks Community Support for Injured Birds and Growing Patient Population

Astoria, OR – May 25, 2024 – The Wildlife Center of the North Coast (WCNC) is currently providing care for several birds recently found along the coast covered in oil. The source of the oil contamination is still under investigation by several official organizations.

In addition to these oiled birds, WCNC is also caring for over 40 young ducklings and a variety of other rotating rehabilitation patients. Our dedicated staff and volunteers are working tirelessly to ensure all our feathered friends receive the necessary care and attention.

WCNC relies heavily on donations from the public and grants to fund our operations. We invite you to support our non-profit organization with a monetary donation. Contributions can be made directly online at:

Our vision is a community where wildlife thrives. With your support, we can continue our life-saving work and ensure the well-being of our coastal wildlife.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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