Regulatory agencies must inform public of oil spills

The best news and information source in Whatcom County • Bellingham, WA • Tuesday, March 1, 2005

Letters to the editor

As executive director of Ocean Advocates, I’d like to remind people that oil spills continue to damage Washington’s marine waters. However, unlike the zealous efforts of the Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology to bring attention to the unrecoverable sheens in Dalco Passage, the similarly sized Jan. 19 diesel spill and Feb. 15 heavy oil spill at the ConocoPhillips refinery received far less attention. Both agencies are currently evaluating the benefits of pre-booming vessels prior to transferring oil as they do when loading in Valdez, Alaska. Such a simple precaution as pre-booming would have prevented the spills at the ConocoPhillips dock from further polluting the Marine Reserve that’s home to the dwindling Cherry Point herring stock.

In order for us to learn from these mistakes, our regulatory agencies need to make them public. To get the whole story in the future, the public needs join Senator Spanel in supporting SB 5432 and HB 1459, creating the Oil Spill Monitoring and Oversight Council. The council, like Bellingham’s Pipeline Trust, is modeled after one in Prince William Sound (pwsrcac.org) and is authorized under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.

Let’s not wait for an Exxon Valdez-sized spill to get a realistic picture of our less protected waterways.

Fred Felleman

Seattle

~ by fredfelleman on March 1, 2005.

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