Damage Control As Oil Burns

Crews took another shot Monday at igniting the oil left on a grounded tanker while officials announced plans to tow the bow section of the wreckage out to sea and sink it in deep water.

Most of the 400,000 gallons of oil aboard the New Carissa was burned off last week, and officials say no more than 10 percent remains. The residual oil has transformed into a thicker, waxier substance that is harder to burn.

The ship ran aground nearly two weeks ago and began to leak a few days later. It was set ablaze Thursday to burn off the oozing fuel oil in the hope of avoiding a spill.

Tar balls have been spotted along the shore and 37 dead birds have been found and shellfish harvesting has been halted.

Most of the spilled fuel oil has broken up into gooey balls ranging from the size of a pea to that of a mud pie, with as many as 10 such balls per square yard of ocean, according to Stephen Zylstra, a contaminants specialist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

If the oil keeps washing ashore up and down the coast, the role of volunteers could become more important, reports Correspondent Craig Sklar of CBS station KOIN-TV.

Although only trained cleanup crews are supposed to be cleaning the beaches, local volunteers want to help in the effort.

"We're figuring out what is happening, and they are the experts and hopefully they'll give us clues," said one local volunteer.

Local environmentalists, however, want only trained cleanup crews on the beaches. "We're not looking for volunteers for the cleanup efforts," said environmentalist Mike Szerlog. "You need hazardous waste operations, emergency response training to do that."

Over the next few months, the oil spill could kill hundreds, and perhaps several thousand seabirds, Zylstra said.