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Long, dark shadow of Exxon Valdez; lessons learned? | Letters
This coming March 24th marks the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
Obviously not a day to celebrate, but it is an opportunity to ask questions and take action. Could it happen here?
With the proposed increase in fossil fuel exports from our region, thousands of more tankers will be annually transiting our county waters, so yes— it could happen here.
Twenty-five years ago, the small communities of Prince William Sound, dependent (as are we) upon a healthy environment for their economic survival, suffered a devastating loss that is still being felt today.
I can’t even imagine how horrible it would be to see your favorite beach, your waterfront property, your livelihood all being drowned in oil.
So what do we do to make sure it doesn’t happen here? It’s going to take more than denial, or hope. We need action.
One action to take is to train to be a volunteer with Islands’ Oil Spill Association (IOSA)—we are fortunate to have them here in the islands. But should we have a major oil spill, we will need far more response resources than we have.
So, the other action to take: ask our governor, Coast Guard commander, and federal and state representatives the tough questions. Are we prepared for a major oil spill?
What happens to our economy and environment if there is a spill? Do we have the resources to respond, contain, and clean up? Who pays for all this?
Don’t stop bugging them until they have answers and take action, too. We need equipment, training and personnel to clean up an oil spill. We need regulations that ensure safe shipping and those that hold the responsible party responsible for full payment of the clean-up. It makes me shudder just to say “clean-up”, but we have to get real.
Local events are being planned—on or before— March 24, to inform our community about the projects that would bring more deep-draft vessel traffic in our straits and what would happen to our islands in the event of a spill.
Watch your calendars, become informed, take action, and maybe we can turn this tragic anniversary into a proactive one for our community. Thank you.
Shaun Hubbard/San Juan Islanders for Safe Shipping, San Juans Alliance