Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Build Pebble Mine? - This WILL Happen
In May 1978, I was at a conference in Anchorage. The pipeline was being built. Along with a lot of other "stakeholders" (the first time I heard that term), I was at the MESA Summit, where we listened to various officials, functionaries and politicians talk about how the pipeline and Valdez terminal and tanker routes would function when the line was done and the oil flowed.
I was there as Whittier Harbormaster. Another ex-skipper of mine, Pete Isleib from Cordova, was there too. He represented a lot of local knowledge. I think he was ostensibly there as the pre-eminent ornithologist from Southcentral Alaska, which he was. But he had also spent thousands of hours on the Sound, year-round, gathering data for various bird, marine mammal and fish surveys.
We were both in a focus group, headed by a couple of Coast Guard officers, on the proposed tanker traffic separation lanes and proposed safety measures. Pete and I sat next to each other.
The Coast Guard moderators and a couple of oil company and Alyeska focus group members waxed eloquently about how smooth it all was going to work. Pete kept shaking his head quietly, back and forth. I looked at him, wondering.
Finally, Pete jumped on the statement of one of the coasties, saying something like "You're talking like this sort of plan always works. It doesn't always work. It always breaks down!
"There'll be a spill. Within ten years or so, there'll be a spill.
"It will happen at Seal Rocks, or Johnstone Point, or Bligh Reef, or Potato Point. Most likely, at Bligh Reef. It always happens at one of those places."
If Pebble Mine is built, the dam holding back hundreds of millions of waste-contaminated water will break. It is inevitable: