Saturday, March 01, 2008

Exxon update. How the Exxon Valdez oil spill devastating effect is still being felt despite Exxon's claim that the clean up was successful.

I was listening to Living on Earth this morning and the subject of the Exxon court case and effects of the oil spill were discussed.

You can listen to or read the transcript of the program on the Exxon oil spill here.

Contrary to the claims of Exxon the sound remains devastated even if it visually looks ok. Several residents were interviewed with heartbreaking stories on how the spill has destroyed their means of subsistence, which was mainly fishing.

Apparently the schools of herring have not recovered which means the fish like salmon which preys on the herring, and the eagles, sea lions and bears etc. which feed on the salmon and the Orcas who feed on the sea lions are no longer seen.

A tragedy that Exxon does not want to take responsibility for nor acknowledge.


Blogger Benjamin Vogt said...

Oh yes, I've heard about this for years. It will take centuries for this to even have some semblance of what it once was. And we are doing this world wide, big spills and small, by the second, land and sea and air! What always gets me is that living more green creates more jobs and a stronger economy....

8:06 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Big oil still gets subsidies from the government.

See this article

They should cut subsidies to all mature energy producers especially since big oil is raking in record profits and shift it to the new renewable fuels producers. Germany heavily incentivizes the use of solar panels so home owners and farmers are installing panels and feed it into the electric grid. In the program I watched, the govt. was installing huge grids of solar panels in the empty space between the autobahns. They are very serious about reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. Indeed going green should create many more jobs and jump start our ailing economy.

9:05 AM  
Blogger kate said...

As long as the oil companies retain their power and influence, it will be a long time before things change. Going green is the only way to go - but power and money talk. The government and opposition parties here debate endlessly who is more green - but essentially little changes as we have the same economic structure as the US. The saving grace is that we are oil producers - in my province, it is booming at the moment because of the high price of oil.

11:49 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
We with our voracious appetite for oil give Big Oil their power. No demand, no money, no power or influence. Unfortunately it's easy to be righteous but I'm as bad as everyone else since I drive practically everywhere. In suburban heaven/hell most things are at a distance but I should make the effort to either walk or bike to the post office and bank which are within a mile or two.

I'm assuming most garden bloggers are environmentalists too and I've seen other blogs mentioning the changes they've made in reducing energy and natural resource usage that reflects my own. But we can do better to break away from big oil's influence in our world. It's only that oil is still the cheapest source of energy ... but not for long thank heaven.

Unwittingly George Bush (his natural state of being most of the time) may have helped the environment by artificially accelerating the cost of oil. He and his cronies made us see the price of oil 10 years ahead of time and may have done the environment a favor as sales of SUVs and other gas guzzlers are stagnant.

Unfortunately the developing countries are picking up the slack. I believe I heard Beijing is adding 1000 cars a day to their roads and that's only one city in China.

6:07 AM  
Blogger DigitalShutterMania said...

I've heard this story for awhile but I don't really know about the deep detail about it. Exxon should have more accountability how ever the money is all to final answer. That may be why they said that everything is OK.


4:37 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

Unfortunately money is everything to these large corporations. They did a cosmetic clean up but didn't pay for the long term devastation to the environment or townspeople affected by the oil spill. Thank you for your comment.

5:47 AM  
Anonymous Pam said...

Hi Ki,

I stopped by here a bit okay, to read your post on Project Budburst (we both seem to have an interest in biodiversity) - and was fascinated to see the posts on the Valdez oil spill. Did you have a personal connection with the spill? (Not that one is at all needed - it should be a trajedy to us all). Anyway, when I was a postdoc - the lab I worked in worked closely with the clean-up activities, and much of my research in the past has focused on oil biodegradation (microbial degradation). I've got a bunch of the oil that was spilled in my lab (in small vials) even now - and from time-to-time I try and catch up on what is going on, so it was nice to come here - and find all of these links. Exxon has manipulated the situation since day 1, and so many small business people were put out of work because of the spill - and this doesn't speak to the devastating environmental effects. I suppose what has angered me the most is that we have ways to prevent this (or to limit it) - double-hulled tankers, etc - but this things just don't ever seem to happen. Also, they way they calculate 'clean-up' progress is very manipulative as well, and is focused on a percentage of easier-to-degrade compounds, not the residual stuff that stays around for ever. Oil was a fascinating field to do research in - it is so political, so old, so entrenched - craziness indeed.

6:30 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Pam,
I think we were living in Seattle at the time of the oil spill. So it was big news there because a lot of the fishing fleets were affected. But other than that I had no personal connection with the spill.

It must be strange? (I can't seem to find a better word) to hold vials of oil from the historical spill that caused so much destruction.

I seem to remember something about bunker oil, the heavy tar-like substance, which sank and is still probably at the bottom of the sound. I thought most of the clean up was done mechanically, using emulsifiers and surfactants to disperse the oil? Again if I memory serves, oil bio-degradation was considered too slow? How would you inoculate the area and keep the bacteria from floating away with the strong currents in the sound? Did the lab you worked in ever use bio-degradation in the Exxon spill?

Anyway it's a huge tragedy. Unfortunately the remoteness of the site makes it less so in most people's eyes and Exxon gets off with paying only a pittance for an inadequate cleanup.

Project BudBurst should be a fun activity. I am little dismayed about the calibration species listed. Although these are common species throughout the U.S. I have only a few in my yard or in the neighborhood. :( Luckily you can add your own species.

5:39 AM  

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