Cleansers wash off the soybean oil and fuel oil, but also remove the ducks' natural oil which keeps them buoyant in water. A few ducks got away from their rescuers after being cleaned, and drowned quickly after reaching the water. The ducks must be kept in captivity until summer, when they will molt and develop new feathers.
Image from the Hastings Gazette Weekly, April 4, 1963, p. 2. Digitized with permission from the Hastings Star Gazette.
In 1962 and 1963, industrial accidents spilled 3.5 million gallons of oil into the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. The oil covered the Mississippi River from St. Paul to Lake Pepin, creating an ecological disaster and a demand to control water pollution.