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Earth Science

Oil From the Exxon Valdez Spill Still Lingers On Alaska Beaches 261

Posted by samzenpus
from the sticking-around dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It's been 25 years since the Exxon Valdez dumped 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound, and you can still find oil sticking to rocks. Worse yet, scientists say the oil could be around for decades yet to come. From the article: 'There are two main reasons why there's still oil on some of the beaches of the Kenai Fjords and Katmai National Parks and Preserves in the Gulf of Alaska, explains Gail Irvine, a marine ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey and lead researcher on the study. When the oil first spilled from the tanker, it mixed with the seawater and formed an emulsion that turned it into a goopy compound, she says. "When oil forms into the foam, the outside is weathering, but the inside isn't," Irvine explains. It's like mayonnaise left out on the counter. The surface will crust over, but the inside of the clump still looks like mayonnaise, she explains.'"
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Oil From the Exxon Valdez Spill Still Lingers On Alaska Beaches

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  • by flyingfsck (986395) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:25AM (#46385521)
    Eventually, something will eat the oil. Oil is basically archaia bacterial poop originally made deep under ground.
  • Re:Consequences... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:27AM (#46385529) Journal

    Asset forfeiture... Used on pot smokers all the time... Take it out of the board members' pockets.

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:29AM (#46385537)

    How about they pay half of all profits until the problem is *solved*. Make it *hurt* so that they *never* want to have such a thing happen again.

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:53AM (#46385615) Homepage Journal

    There just aren't enough mod points for this post. We will have a decent society when we have a just society.

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by luckymutt (996573) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:46AM (#46385775)

    Personally, I have a better idea: Let's just accept the fact that life is complicated and there are no easy answers, regardless of how fun it may be to blame those evil nasty rich folks.

    So, your "better idea" is just to let bad shit(decisions) happen unaccountably, because life is complicated?

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:55AM (#46385801) Homepage

    My better idea is to stop looking for scapegoats every time there's a catastrophe. Bad events happen because humans (including the suit-wearing ones) can't predict the future. Sometimes a whole set of good decisions lead to bad events, and we don't accomplish anything good be punishing people for things they can't foresee.

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FuzzNugget (2840687) on Monday March 03, 2014 @02:11AM (#46385849)

    Just accept it? Tough shit? I don't think so.

    Punishment doesn't work on *individuals* because it's not reasonable to expect them to know all the nuance of laws affecting them in their daily lives.

    Punishment works for *corporations* because they are have the resources and training to know what laws affect them as they go about their business. I don't disagree that there should be strong incentives for good safety protocols and environmental protection standards, but that should not preclude the use of equally strong disincentives for violations.

    Regulatory control should not be so weak and subject to influence that gigantic corporations guilty of gross negligence actually have bargaining power in these situations; they need to be at the mercy of regulators and of the public.

  • Re: Figures (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @02:18AM (#46385871)

    The fine was for $5 billion+, after twenty years they settled out of court for pennies on the dollar, I'd say they paid nothin!

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Immerman (2627577) on Monday March 03, 2014 @02:29AM (#46385909)

    No, but they seem to mostly get out of bed and say "Today I'm going to make a lot of money, and fuck anyone/thing who gets hurt in the process"

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:45AM (#46386083)

    Government does some things really well. For example, the Social Security Administration is almost unfathomably efficient, compared to other large national or private retirement systems. For example, the overhead of SS is less than 3%, compared to something like 30% for Chile's privatized retirement system, lauded by conservatives.

    The United States Post Office is also very economically efficient, especially considering how hemmed in they are by Congress. How people can both believe that post office workers are lazy, yet at the same time be so stressed out and overworked as to be the archetype for "going postal", I'll never understand. Cognitive dissonance at its finest.

    Of course, if all you listen to are the whining pundits and conventional snark, you wouldn't realize this. But disimpassioned academic studies have shown these and other systems to be stellar performers.

    OTOH, locating, recovering, shipping, and distributing oil and oil products is a very complex, capital intensive business with a rapid pace of development and subject to extreme market volatility. That's pretty much the opposite thing that government bureaucracies are good at. It's also why they find it hard to regulate such industries without unleashing a parade of unintended consequences. Nationalized oil companies are some of the most inefficient and corrupt bureaucracies ever established. To anybody who despises Exxon, Shell, etc, I suggest you take a look at companies like Pemex (Mexico), Petronas (Malaysia), etc, including their environmental impact. Many times when there's a spill they don't even bother trying to clean it up, let alone do a poor job of it.

  • Re:Consequences... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sarten-X (1102295) on Monday March 03, 2014 @09:08AM (#46386837) Homepage
    The Hivemind doesn't want justice. It wants vengeance.
  • Re:Consequences... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:04AM (#46387457)
    "Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining profit without individual responsibility." -Ambrose Bierce

    The whole point of a corporation is to pretend it's not individual people doing something, it's a entity called the corporation. The other essential part of the corporation is it can evaporate instantly when needed, with very little of the profits evaporating. This is not true of pot smokers, which is why it works for pot smokers but not for corporations. Everyone has been pretending it for so long that holding the individuals responsible is unthinkable in politics, and has been for as long as I've been alive.

    That said, some profits would evaporate with the corporation, it's not a painless procedure, so I would have preferred that.

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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