Events speak to need for citizen advisory committee

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Letters to the Editor

OIL SPILLS

The 16th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill was marked by British Petroleum’s deadly blast at its Houston refinery, the grounding of a 2.6 million gallon capacity, single-hulled oil barge off the Columbia River and a series of lesser-known incidents reported in the P-I last week. Unfortunately, these events appeared to be outweighed by the testimony of the industry and Department of Ecology before the House Committee hearing on ESSB 5432, creating a Citizen Oil Spill Oversight Council (Friday’s P-I).

This is also the 15th anniversary of the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990. OPA 90 was passed following a major spill, for we fail to heed the warnings these lesser incidents afford. However, the Coast Guard still has not implemented the salvage and firefighting regulations or created any citizen advisory committees called for in OPA 90.

Had the barge Millicoma been fully loaded when it grounded on the coast last week, we would have been responding to the state’s largest oil spill and witnessing the loss of the threatened orca population, which was sighted in the region, because six cargo holds were breached during the two days it took to get the barge off the beach. With luck like this, who needs citizen advice?

Fred Felleman
Ocean Advocates
Seattle

~ by fredfelleman on March 29, 2005.

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