Letter: Beware boasts of corporations that say nothing will go wrong

The Shell Kulluk’s difficulties highlight the problems with corporate arrogance when faced with Alaska and Arctic conditions. Not to put down the efforts of, or corporations in general, but such glitches are reminders to develop some humility when dealing with the forces of Nature.

Oil and mineral extraction companies have worldwide and super-national experience when it comes to dealing with natural resources. Their maps supersede political boundary lines, which are arbitrarily imposed over natural geological structures that the companies deal with. But in the quest for profit, caution often becomes an afterthought. Backup safety plans are sacrificed to bravado, bragging and false claims, or may just be elaborate smokescreens to obtain permits. Reams of paper clearly proved useless for the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon. That should be the first sign of impending disaster: the boasts of corporations, e.g., Pebble, that nothing will go wrong. A rule of thumb for contingency planning and risk assessment: If it can go wrong, it will. Shell again demonstrates where the plans of mice and men often go.

— Kay Thomas

Cooper Landing