The North Slope oil companies, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and other supporting a tidewater terminus for the Alaska Pipeline made broad promises to the people of Valdez and the rest of Alaska about their ability to operate safely and to repond effectively in the event of a major oil spill.
Here, on the left, from testimony and exhibits prosented at U.S. Department of Interior hearings in 1971, are some of the promises.
In the right hand column is the reality.
WHAT WAS SAID THEN
"From my own experience and the studies of many other workers in the pollution field, I am satisfied that tanker traffic to and from Port Valdez, and operation of an oil port there, will not cause any significant damage to the marine environment or to fisheries interests.
"The contingency plan which will be drawn up will detail methods for dealing promptly and effectively with any oil spill which may occur, so that its effect on the environment will be minimal. We have adequate knowledge for dealing with oil spills and improvements in techniques and equipment are continuing to become available through worldwide research. The best equipment, materials and expertise which will be made available as part of the oil spill contingency plan, will make operations at Port Valdez and in Prince William Sound the safest in the world."
L.R. Beynon, head of Environmental Studies in British Petroleum's Technical Development Division, representing Alyeska Pipeline Services, 1971.
"When the maximum has been done to prevent the spread of oil, the main cleanup activity should always be physical retrieval of the spillage. . . . It is not proposed to use dispersants for oil spill cleanup in Alaska waters."
Benyon for Alyeska
"The Port of Valdez and Prince William Sound approaches can accommodate any method of ship movement control now known to man. . . . Bridgetobridge and shiptoshore voice communication systems exist today. Shipboard radar can be augmented by a shore based command center equipped with radar. . . . The few ships in the area can be stopped, backed up, moved sideways, ordered into any maneuver desired or any approach or departure route."
George Easley, Alaska commissioner of public works. 1971.
Counting bodies is all anyone can do, state wildlife official says
The North Slope oil companies, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. and others supporting a tidewater terminus for the Alaska Pipeline made broad promises to the people of Valdez and the rest of Alaska about their ability to operate safely and to respond effectively in the event of a major oil spill.
Here, on the left, from testimony and exhibits presented at U.S. Department of Interior hearings in 1971, are some of the promises.
In the righthand column is the reality.
WHAT IS BEING SAID NOW
"There's a lot more equipment due in overnight and tomorrow morning. The first hurdle is getting it in to Valdez and getting it from Valdez out to the site. As we know, it's a difficult, timeconsuming process."
Coast Guard Cmdr. Steve McCall on Saturday, more than a day after the Exxon Valdez spill."The oil spill contingency plan, we followed the plan exactly how we're supposed to do it. The only deviation we had from that was the fact we had taken all this material off of the barge to be able to weld the punctures that were in the bow. And the additional response that it took was to be able to put that gear back on the barge."
Alyeska spokesman Chuck O'Donnell, explaining that containment efforts did not begin immediately because the barge needed to carry equipment had been broken for two weeks.
"The volume of oil released in the water is for all intents and purposes beyond control by mechanical means alone."
McCall of the Coast Guard, Sunday night.
Question from reporter: "How long will it take to clean that 240,000 barrels of oil?"
"I don't know. It's never been done before . . . weeks at least."
Frank Iarossi, president of Exxon Shipping Co., in Valdez on Sunday.
"It's a little mindboggling to fathom the amount of oil that is in the water. As has been stated, and most accurately so: This is the largest release of oil in the United States in the history of oil pollution response."
McCall of the Coast Guard.
"By tomorrow we're going to be going all out, using all the tools at our disposal. . . . We weren't even up and running until 12 o'clock yesterday afternoon."
Iarossi of Exxon, three days after the spill.
"This is a unique situation in that it is a very remote area, presenting very difficult problems, and we see a potential for acute and severe impacts to the animals that use the surface of the waters, i.e. marine mammals, sea birds and intertidal fisheries. We're also concerned about the longterm impact for salmon, fry, herring, spawn and tanner crab."
Spokeswoman for NOAA
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