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Keeping Oil Spill From Becoming Spilled Milk


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View John McManus's blog posts
04 May 2010, 6:56 AM
Fishermen cleaned up Exxon Valdez-spill that had idled them
Prince William Sound after the Exxon Valdez spill. Photo: USGS

It's hard to know how similar the Gulf spill is to the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989, but there is at least one parallel: fishermen idled by a mess threatening their livelihood.

In March of 1989 fishermen were readying themselves for the herring fishing season. This would be followed a few months later by the salmon fishing season in a normal year. After the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef and spilled it's 11 million gallons of crude oil, nothing was normal.

Many, if not virtually all, of the fishermen in Prince William Sound were immediately put to work fighting the spreading oil. The fishermen knew their local waters like only local fishermen typically do. A shift in wind or tide might influence the spread of oil in ways only local knowledge could predict. The fishermen also knew how to handle heavy gear. They commonly set and retrieve long, weighted nets full of fish using state of the art hydraulic winches and other gear. This experience put them in good stead when they were asked to set, tow and retrieve oil containment booms to corral the oil.

Fishermen as a whole generally aren't content to sit and let others do their work for them. They tend to be an independent and extremely self reliant group that have no choice but to be master mechanics, welders, hydraulic system engineers, woodworkers, line and cable splicers, electricians and communications gear technicians. They don't love problems but are used to them and are used to having none but themselves to figure out answers.

In Alaska, rather than sitting on the beach feeling helpless, fighting the oil spill gave the fishermen a sense of purpose. But they also clearly understood, better than any others, their precious fishing areas—once so productive, sustainable and clean—would never be the same.

If history repeats we may soon see many Gulf coast fishermen out working to control the spread of oil.

There are more than 4,000 petrochemical products that are made from petroleum (crude oil).

Here's a list of the most popular and frequently used products:

Artificial Limbs
Bags (garbage bags, shopping bags)
Balloons
Bandaids
Candles
Clothing (polyester, nylon)
Combs
Computers, calculators
Crayons
Credit Cards
Dishwashing Liquids
Disposable Diapers
Eye Glasses, Sunglasses
Fertilizers
Fishing Rods
Flooring (linoleum, tiles, carpets)
Garden Hose
Hand Lotion, Cream, Petroleum Jelly
Helmets (bicycle, hockey, etc.)
Heart Valves
Helmets (bicycle, hockey, etc.)
Insect Repellent
Insecticides
Life Jackets
Milk Jugs
Paint Brushes
Panty Hose
Parachutes
Patio Furniture
Pens
Perfume
Rope (nylon)
Safety Glass
Shampoo
Shower Curtains, Shower Doors
Soft Contact Lenses
Soft Drink Bottles, Plastic Bottles
Tape (clear, masking, etc.)
Tapes - (cassettes, vcr tapes)
Telephones
Tennis rackets
Tents
Toys, Dolls, Model Cars
Tires (synthetic rubber)
Toothbrushes, Toothpaste Tubes
Trash Bags
TV Cabinets
Umbrellas
Unbreakable Dishes
Waterproof Jackets, Boots, Pants

Think before you start bashing oil companies, they make your life the way it is today. can you live without everything on this lis?

Yay for off shore drilling!!!
How can we thank you oil companies for all the good you have done?
How can our oceans, wildlife, food supply, health and the future of our earth thank you enough. You have been so good to us by caring for the environment while you suck liquid black money out from our planet.
So good to the indigenous communities where you leave ever so kindly massive oil pits to contaminate their only drinking water, crops and soil - creating deformed children in communities with ho affordable or equipped healthcare institution.
I look at all the amazing things you do and I am flabbergasted that you haven't yet received an award for Company of the Year...oops that's right Monsanto took that one away from you.

Only mother nature can do the real cleanup of this environmental disaster. Experts say it may take between 40 - 50 years before everything is back to normal. http://2010GulfOilSpill.com

BP is already hiring locals in huge numbers. They will obviously do everything they can. Unfortunately, bad weather has made it extremely difficult to accomplish much - those containment booms don't really work when the waves crash over them.

A big difference - much of the shoreline in Alaska was/is rock, which is relatively easy to clean. Much of the shoreline along the Gulf coast is marsh, which really doesn't clean too well. (Imagine cleaning motor oil off your driveway. Now imagine cleaning it out of your prized flower beds, and not having the option of digging them up and starting over.)

I fear that my son will never know the world as I have known it.

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