Oil Spills — Elect Officials Who Represent Public Instead Of Oil Industry

Editorials & Opinion: Monday, March 29, 1999


Letters To The Editor

Last Sunday’s paper had a serious spill of bad ink. Ross Anderson has clearly assumed the role of maritime industry and Coast Guard apologist in his cover story, “The spill is gone” (March 21).

This is such foolhardy dependence on the ocean’s “resilience” which has brought us the endangered status of our precious salmon and herring stocks. Such biased reporting also lets our legislators off the hook from taking action to prevent oil spills in Washington this session.

In the same edition, Stephen Powell takes issue with my evaluation of our region’s oil-spill preparedness, which I presented at the International Oil Spill Conference in Seattle and in my views on Capt. Joe Hazelwood’s responsibility in the Exxon Valdez oil spill.

I stand behind my statement that the New Carissa provides a stark example of our region’s “pathetic” oil-spill response capability. The Coast Guard allowed the ship to get pounded broadside by the waves, rather than dispatching a tug to keep the ship’s bow pointing into the waves.

If a tug were in Neah Bay, it could have been there (Coos Bay, Ore.) in less than two days, rather than waiting six days to call a relatively new and lightweight ship a total loss.

We had to get a tow line from The Netherlands when the material is manufactured in Everett. We dumped the bow with 130,000 gallons of fuel into the ocean with the vice president’s blessings despite two opportunities to pump it off when it was high on the beach.

The stern still sits off Coos Bay while the costs approach the ship’s insurance coverage limit of $22 million – enough to pay for a full-time rescue tug for seven years.

The one bright spot in Sunday’s paper was Bill Dietrich’s thought-provoking guest opinion, “The Big Spill.” In it he asks, “What happened to passionate outrage?”

I believe my characterization of Hazelwood as a “mass murderer” fits in that category. Drinking heavily before departure and leaving the helm in the hands of inexperienced crew while still inside Prince William Sound was a total abdication of his responsibilities.

Thousands of lives were lost and many more were affected in subsequent years by such calls.

But we need to do far more, including putting elected officials in office who can represent the public interest rather than that of Rockefeller’s reformulated oil empire.

Fred Felleman Northwest director, Ocean Advocates Seattle

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

~ by fredfelleman on March 29, 1999.

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