This letter will be published in the Times Northwest Voices Website and possibly in the print edition Friday.
Will Puget Sound be the next Prince William Sound, or worse?
On the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill, it’s scary to reflect on the increased oil tanker traffic in Puget Sound. A spill raises grave concerns for the health of our already struggling salmon and shellfish industries, and will have devastating impacts on tourism, shipping and real estate values.
Our state Ecology Department has determined that a major spill would cost Washington’s economy $11 billion and adversely effect 165,000 jobs.1 But even these numbers may vastly underestimate the actual costs when we add tar sands oil to the mix.
Traditional spill response will be far from adequate to deal with tar sands. Being heavier than conventional oil sources, they sink, not float, so current surface methods of containment are inadequate. A July 2010 spill of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River has so far resulted in $750 million in cleanup costs; 10 times the cost per liter of traditional oil. 2 Two years later, the cleanup continues, for 35 miles the river remains closed, and people’s homes along the river have been abandoned for health reasons and bought out by the oil company.
Picture if you will, the devastation, the permanent devastation, that this event will have on our spectacular Puget Sound environment and regional economy. Kalamazoo was only 840,000 gallons, Exxon Valdez over 11 million gallons. Sooner or later, a tanker spill will occur in Puget Sound.
It’s just crazy to allow this dirty oil into our Sound. Keep tar sands oil out of Puget Sound.
David Wilbur, Seattle