Exxon’s 20 yrs of Impacts

by Fred Felleman

So here we are “celebrating” the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. It can’t be for the thousands of gallons of crude still polluting Alaska’s marine sediments, the almost assured extinction of an orca pod, the collapse of the Prince William Sound herring stock, or the paltry amount Alaskan fishermen were finally paid by Exxon.

So what is there to celebrate? There are two major accomplishments to note. Nationally, the year after Exxon’s indelible moment in Prince William Sound Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90). The bill’s primary provision was to require oil tankers and barges to be double hulled by 2015. Two recent incidents in the Gulf of Mexico – a grounding in the Houston ship Canal and a collision with a submerged oil rig did not result in spills as a result of that provision.

In the Pacific Northwest after 20 years of effort, starting when I initiated the designation of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, Governor Gregoire has signed State legislation requiring all commercial vessels over 300 gross tons calling on Juan de Fuca Strait to have a contract with a response tug in Neah Bay. Since 1999 public funds have kept the tug on station during the winter. It has aided 42 ships to date. Now the burden is shifted to the industry who has benefited from the service (http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/response_tug/tugresponsessince1999.htm).

~ by fredfelleman on March 24, 2009.

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