California Joins West Coast States in Oil Spill Protection Effort
SACRAMENTO - In an effort to avoid tragic tanker spills like that of the Exxon Valdez, California has joined the other west coast states and British Columbia in a series of recommendations to prevent future oil spills or to provide mutual hep to clean up those that do occur.
The list of 46 agreed upon actions ranges from better traffic control and training for petroleum workers to prevent spills to stronger liability limits and required proof of financial ability among shippers to pay the full cost of damages caused by spills.
Some of the recommendations are designed to coordinate or speed the clean-up operations and include such simple actions as emergency personnel exchanging telephone numbers so that they can contact each other quickly and inventory clean-up equipment throughout the West Coast that can be dispatched to spill quickly.
Many of the key recommendations offered by California, such as establishment an oil spill fund and stricter liability limits, will be carried out through legislation (SB2040; Lempert, Keene, SeastrandOil Spill Prevention and Response Act) recently signed into law by Governor Deukmejian. Among its provisions, the new law establishes a new office within the Department of Fish and Game that would work to prevent spills and coordinate clean-up efforts, funded through fees imposed on oil transported across California's coastal waters.
The States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force agreed that stronger cooperation among West coast states will help reduce damage from oil spills, but that the key to the mutual action was spill prevention.
"The strength of this agreement is that it crosses state and international boundaries to create better teamwork among the states so that, by helping each other, we can better protect the whole Pacific Coast from oil spill damage," said Mike Kahoe, assistant secretary of the Environmental Affairs Agency, who represents the state on the task force.
The Task Force coordinates the efforts of California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and British Columbia and was formed in 1988 following a 231,000 gallon spill in Puget Sound. The Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound the day following the first meeting of the task force.