Queen of the North Oil Spill Response Effort Winding Down?
Why do the responders apppear to be about to fold their tents? Well, for one thing, it appears that the leak from the wreck has slowed to a trickle. Also, the cleanup operation was somewhat futile to begin with. Of course, economics also play a role: oil spill response operations can get pretty darned expensive.
Who can blame the authorities for planning an exit strategy? I mean, after all, booms and skimmers don't work on light diesel, and sorbents are of limited utility when the oil is spread so far and wide. I guess it's just that old standby response strategy of: "Let nature take its course", is it not? You know, the prefered strategy of most response organisations around the world.
But, a lot of hard questions remain, and answers are few and far between. For instance, I have a few queries for the Incident Commander. I would like to know the following:
1- What has happened to all the ribbons of oil that were displayed on those nice maps you put out? Have they all dispersed, dissolved and evaporated? If so, why not put out a new, updated map indicating that? And what about those pockets of oil around Fin Island?
2- What have the Shoreline Cleanup Assessment Teams (SCAT) found? For instance, how many kms of beaches and rocky shoreline are oiled or soiled, and what is the plan to mitigate the effects?
3- What kind of wildlife have been impacted, aside from three groggy birds? There have been reports of an oiled seal, for instance; is there any truth to that?
4- How much oil do you estimate escaped from the vessel, and how much remains? Is it all coming from one tank, two tanks, or do you not know?.
5- You say the flow rate has slowed considerably. The last estimate you provided was 50 litres per hour, which could have meant the spill would go on for months and months. What is the current flow rate, and how long do you think the tank or tanks will continue to empty out?
6- It seems the mini-sub did its job and headed home; is that right? We saw some nice still shots and video of the vessel's stern and hull, but what about the source of the leak or leaks? Did they find anything? How exhaustive was their search? How many leaks did they find? Are the tanks below sea level?
7- If leaks were found from the sunken hulk, what is the plan - to staunch them, suction the oil out of the tanks, encase the vessel in concrete, perhaps?
8- What about the clam beds, and the seaweed harvest, and the coming herring spawn, and the imminent arrival of killer whales? What are your contingency plans for each of these? Are you just going to monitor these elements, and hope for the best, or are you taking any concrete steps to protect them? Is there a shellfish closure in effect, and if so, where?
9- Who is monitoring the surface above the wreck to determine whether oil reoccurs, and at what rate? Is Coast Guard on scene for that, or local fishing boats, or what?