Slick with numbers – The distributive property of oil

Seattle Times – Letter to the Editor
13 December 2007

The Department of Ecology’s estimate of 6 million to 8 million gallons of oil entering Puget Sound annually is five times higher than NOAA’s 1988 estimate and only three times less than what the 2003 National Research Council (NRC) estimated was the average for oil entering the sea from land-based sources for all of North America between 1990 and 1999 [“Stormwater’s damage to Puget Sound huge, report says,” Local News, Dec. 1].

Despite the dubious nature of such estimates, Ecology compares the amounts of such chronic releases of refined oil with those of the devastating impacts of persistent oil spilled from ships that could be released in an unfortunate moment. In addition, Ecology did not include estimates of the tons of oil and grease it permits refineries to discharge on an annual basis.

A soon-to-be-released government report documents that 26,000 gallons of oil still remain in Prince William Sound from the Exxon Valdez spill of 18 years ago. Significant spills in San Francisco Bay, South Korea and the Black Sea demonstrate our continued risk and inability to effectively respond [“Giant oil spill blackens coast of South Korea,” News, Dec. 9, “Worst SF Bay spill in nearly 20 years declared emergency,” News, Nov. 9, and see “380-gallon diesel spill from fishing vessel in Tacoma,” Local News, Dec. 11].

That is not to say we should be ignoring the serious problems posed by stormwater runoff; it’s just that Ecology should make the point without diminishing the fact that we still have work to do, such as passing Sen. Maria Cantwell’s bill requiring that the maritime industry fund the Neah Bay tug that assisted the Matson Kauai last Monday.

— Fred Felleman, Friends of the Earth, Seattle

~ by fredfelleman on December 13, 2007.

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