Turn back the pages — April 13, 1989
Compiled by Julie Rosier
Navy skimmers here to pick up Exxon’s spilled oil — Two Navy skimmers moved into the Eldorado Narrows just inside of Resurrection Bay Tuesday afternoon, April 11 to begin collecting the spilled oil that has worked its way closer to Seward, according to United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Matt Carr. The Marco 5 skimmers arrived Saturday and Sunday, and up until Tuesday afternoon, had not been used to remove any oil.
Carr anticipated the skimmers would begin clean up operations by Tuesday night. The vessels will each be towing a container that enables them to collect 35,000 gallons of oil, but the barges used to store the collected oil were not present as of Tuesday, said Carr.
The officer said he did receive word from Exxon that barges are coming, but did not know when they may arrive. A second skimming operation in the works will utilize the USCG cutters Yocona and Planetree and an 84” Norwegian boom, said Carr.
Each vessel will take one end of the boom and tow it creating a trap to collect floating oil. One of the Navy skimmers will then follow behind an opening in the boom and gather the oil, said Carr.
Tuesday evening the boom could not be utilized because the power pack needed to inflate it was sent to Valdez, said Carr. He did say the pack was on its way to Seward.
Spill clean-up effort has appearance of circus (editorial) — Southcentral Alaska’s marine waterways are dying bit by bit while corporate and governmental efforts to manage the destruction increasingly take on the character of a circus... if a circus can feature dying animals, clowns in pinstriped suits and a ringmaster that offers to pay for everybody’s tickets, then raises fuel prices Outside to cover the cost.
Cleanup efforts in the Exxon Valdez oil spill are in full swing, according to an Exxon official, who told the LOG the corporation now is skimming up to 2,000 barrels of the spilled crude a day from the waters of Prince William Sound. Unfortunately, at that rate it will be the year 2004 A.D. before the last oil is cleaned up.
City, state and federal agencies and corporations have banded together to create new temporary cooperatives, such as the Crisis Management Center in Seward, and the Seward Bird Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. Meetings are held, maps updated, briefings given and a steady pile of paper generated. Reconnaissance flights are flown, boat trips to the end of the bay to track the spill are taken, but so far, no oil has been cleaned up from the waters of Cape Resurrection or the vicinity of the bay, of from Kenai Fjords National Park.
Wildlife being engulfed by oil slick — As the Exxon oil spill continues to make its slow southeastern journey down Alaska’s coastline, increasing numbers of wildlife are being engulfed by the black swath. In the oiled waters at the head of Resurrection Bay, fouled sea birds are clinging to rocks, floundering in the open water and perishing.
Sunday morning Kenai Fjords Park Ranger Peter Fitzmaurice conducted a count of the birds affected by the oil around Cape Resurrection, the Chriswell Islands and Seal Rocks. Traveling by boat to the traditional nesting grounds, the ranger and a handful of photographers documented a cross-section of the damage the oil has imposed on the many species of birds thus far.
During the afternoon six dead, oiled birds were retrieved and only eighty more tainted living wildfowl were sighted among the cliffs and beaches. A number of carcasses were stuck in a tar-like patch of oil on the coast of Matushka Island that could not even be retrieved to add to the body count.
The removal of the dead birds is critical to keeping other flesh eating birds and animals from being affected. The toxins in the oil can be transferred down the food chain, possibly causing eagles and other carnivores to have reproductive problems, said the ranger.
Animal cleaning stations being set up in Seward — Two separate receiving stations for oiled birds and otters will be in operation in Seward as soon as electricians and carpenters can get the facilities ready, according to bird and otter rescue spokesman Mark Skok. A warehouse located in the Seward Marine Industrial Center will be ready to handle birds Thursday, April 13, and the otter center, to be located near the Institute of Marine Science should be ready Monday, April 17, said Skok.
The spokesman said that a small group of boats began searching for dead and living birds Wednesday morning. The 7,000 square foot warehouse to be used for cleaning the birds was not ready at the time, but Skok expected the electrical and plumbing work to be finished within 24 hours.
The rescue operation will utilize 52 by 10 foot prefabricated pipeline trailers that will also have plumbing and electrical hook up. Skok said the operation may be run for months because otters often inhabit still water coves where the oil may linger.
Jim Styers, a marine mammalogist from Irvine will head the operation and work with four veterinarians, said Skok.
Soundings from readers... (Commentary by Fred Metzler, Anchorage) — The issue is not the oil spill in Prince William Sound; and its cause is not a drunken skipper, lack of double-hulled ships, or slow response time.
The issue is how a national, or even more rightly, global, resource came to be controlled by a comparatively small group of people who hold very narrow, and almost exclusively monetary, interests. The cause is an economic system that, in the main, isn’t any more egalitarian than feudalism. Some statistics: In 1988, America’s richest one percent owned 36 percent of the nation’s wealth. The next 4 percent owned roughly another 30 percent. The net worth of America’s richest 400 individuals exceeded the national debt. Anyone feeling like a serf yet?
My suggestion concerning the oil spill is this: in light of Exxon owner’s negligence and indifference to anyone’s interests other than their own, the assets of Exxon should be appropriated and distributed in equal shares to each and every American citizen in the form of a stock certificate. This bold but not unworkable move would have a number of salutary effects.
We could, for instance, be quite confident that the other oil companies would be considerably more responsible in how they extract, transport and market the resource we entrust to them. But more to the heart of the matter, “What’s our last quarter earnings?” or “Have we maximized our profits?” would fade into idle curiosity when compared to questions like “Will our grandchildren have an adequate supply of oil?” After all, who will much care about whether their annual Exxon dividend is 10, or 11, or 9 dollars? Even if it was more than a nominal amount, they’d still be too busy worrying about everyone’s grandchildren. And the nice thing is, they’d have the power to do something about their worries.