BY DAVID DANELSKI / STAFF WRITER
Published: Oct. 16, 2014 Updated: 10:28 p.m.
Federal wildlife officials are investigating the deaths this week of as many as 60 birds in water evaporation ponds at the Genesis solar plant in eastern Riverside County.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the birds apparently got caught up in an oily substance in the ponds at the Genesis solar plant west of Blythe operated by the Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources Co.
The company uses water to clean thousands of curved mirrors and to make steam, though the source of the water in the ponds was not immediately available on Thursday.
It is not known yet what species of birds died, said Jane Hendron, a Carlsbad-based spokeswoman for the wildlife service. “We are still gathering facts,” she said.
NextEra spokesman Steven Stengel said by telephone that 50-60 birds were found dead in two water evaporation ponds on Monday. He said officials with the agency came to the solar plant Wednesday and took possession of the carcasses.