Spill damage

Published 11:19 pm Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spill damage


The little barefoot boy that steps in a fresh deposit made by the neighbor’s dog does not want to hear that there won’t be much long term damage once the smelly mess is cleaned up. Nor does he want to hear that only a small amount of the offending goo will actually be cleaned out of his front yard’s grass. It is too early for him to be reasonable about the subject while it is still fresh in his mind and on his foot. Emotions are running too high.

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It is easy to side with the crying child and want to comfort him when he is screaming that the offending dog should be sanctioned, punished, and confined to his own property. Perhaps, considering what the same dog did last winter with the neighbor lady’s poodle, the nasty beast should be neutered as well. Surely the dog’s owner owes the little boy a large settlement for ruining the quality of his life. . From here forward he will have to watch where he walks and a piece of his carefree youth has been stolen. The boy thinks his right to feel safe and secure in his own front yard has been forever shattered.

There have been many greater disasters who’s memory quickly faded. I lived in and owned property in Valdez, Alaska at the time of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. That summer I worked as a boat captain cleaning up the oil. Along with thousands of other people, some of whom picked up and wiped clean each individual rock on the beach, we collectively had the greatest adventure and most fun of our lives.

As a result of the millions spent we recovered, by some accounts, less than 8% of the product lost. There were only traces of oil visible the following year and no need for further cleanup. Nature heals itself real well.

I have heard before each and every fear and complaint voiced  by the people affected by the spill. Each person believes their problem is unique and life altering. The doom sayers will predict everlasting disaster depending on their personal ax to grind. I’ve seen the dying wild life and morned their loss. It is too early to tell those hurting that life will resume as before, the wildlife will again thrive, and the long term effects of the spill will be small. We only need to look at the history of previous spills to prove permanent damage is minimal.

We shouldn’t minimize the effects of the spill, nor should we pay too much attention to the media that is trying to wring every opportunity for a sensationalized sound bite out of every drop of crude. We will get through this cleanup and the press will move on to report the next end of the world disaster. Cool realistic heads need to prevail and not let emotions whipped up by sensationalism cripple our oil industry with over regulation and limited drilling opportunities.

John Russum