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Local Residents Help in Gulf Cleanup

By Ray Hershel

HADLEY, Mass. (WGGB)– As the cleanup operation continues in the Gulf of Mexico, Western Massachusetts is represented in that massive effort.

Paul Phifer is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Hadley. He’s back home after spending two weeks in the Gulf  helping to coordinate the cleanup operation.

Phifer has seen the effect of the oil spill on wildlife.

“There are upwards of a running count of over two thousand birds who have been collected dead, the live ones go to four rehab centers to be rehabilitated and let out, there are upwards of 600 sea turtles collected dead and a few dozen marine mammals.”

Paul Phifer is not the only Western Massachusetts  worker helping in the Gulf cleanup. There are some 20 people in the Hadley office who are assisting as well.

One of them is Catherine Hibbard who is coordinating media coverage. One of the most impressive things she’s seen is the effort to save sea turtles.

“In this program they are taking the eggs and digging them up and then taking them to the East Coast of Florida to the Kennedy Space Center where they’re hatching them and releasing them so the sea turtles don’t go into the oiled waters.”

The cleanup effort involves the Coast Guard, B.P., Federal agencies and thousands of volunteers.

Paul Phifer says he’s impressed with their dedication.

“When I was there it was almost 100 degrees with high humidity and they’re working long hours, 12 to 14 hours a day outside, a lot of dedicated people trying to do a lot of cleanup.”


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