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March 29, 1970 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1970-03-29

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Page Six

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Sunday, March 29, 1970

Page Six THE MICHIGAN DAILY Sunday, March 29, 1970

Oil on t
By LEE KIRK
Daily Wildlife Editor
It has been said that everyone talks about the
weather, but no one does anything about it. The
thundering crescen4o of rhetoric on pollution has
produced much the same phenomena; everybody's
talking about it, but the action ends there. Talk
is much cheaper than cleaning up the environment..
And as long as talk is cheap and the cast of action
is dear, environmental disasters and near disasters
will continue to be commonplace. The recent ex-
plosion of an offshore drilling rig off the shores of
Louisiana and the massive spillage of crude that
came after the fire was extinguished have again
served to point up the dangers that constantly peril
the environment and life as we know it.
Poorly enforced regulations that allow tankers and
offshore wells to threaten coastlines and to exist as
a constant threat to fisheries and wildlife seem to
prod no one into anything in the way of concrete
action. A near miss such as the one off the bayou
shores should have pointed up the dangers of off-
shore drilling equally as much as Santa Barbara
slime, as was the case in California, the memories
are slipping from people's minds and things seem
destined to go on as they always have; that is,
badly."
Only a fortuitous shift in the wind kept the ,oil
from flowing shoreward and reaping a harvest of
havoc with the shrimp and oyster beds, and imperil-
ing a federal wildlife ,preserve. The slick has now
been dissolved and stink by a massive chemical
bombardment, but the possible effects of the, sunken

roubled w
oil and the chemicals on ocean floor life remain to
be seen; no one is really sure what will happen.
THE LOUISIANA near-miss shows how slowly the
lessons of the past are learned. The Torrey Canyon,
Santa Barbara, the Tampa Bay fiasco - all these
past oil spillages pointed up the dangers of casual
handling of large quantities of petroleum. But as the
explosion and spillage in the Gulf of Mexico show,
the bureaucratic powers that be have not as yet
taken any action towards the stricter enforcement of
laws and regulations that would significantly reduce
the possibility of such occurrences.
There are almost 8,000 oil wells in U.S. waters in
the Gulf of Mexico alone. The job of inspecting these
installations falls on the shoulders of seventeen
men. Inspecting the platform alone takes two federal
inspectors a day, and additional time is required
to check the underwater systems. In the eight
months since the government started to crack
down on offshore rigs that failed to meet the re-
quirements, only about 20 per cent of the Gulf
oil fields have been checked out.
The crackdown has produced pyrrhic victories at
best. Federal officials have been reluctant to try
and make any of their charges stick. The oil com-
panies are in theory subject to a $2,000 a day
fine for violations, but one Department of the In-
terior official recently admitted that in his thirteen
years on the job, he could not recall one instance in
which an oil company was prosecuted.
'The reason for this is simple. The government
would have to pay for the litigation is a suit were

aters: A Louisiana

brought. In case of a serious violation, the gov-
ernment may order a rig temporarily shut
down, but they're hurting themselves in so doing.
The government gets a 12 per cent royalty on
all U.S. produced oil. The amount of money in-
volved for both the oil companies and the federal
government is so large as to make the $2,000
a day fine peanuts for both.
Governments in states such as Louisiana where
oil is vital to the economy have always taken it easy
on the industry. Four out of every ten dollars the
state of Louisiana spends come from' oil-related
revenues, and oil is obviously essential to the
economic health of the state and the political health
of all Louisiana politicians. Senator Long fought
long and hard against any reduction in the oil
depletion allowance last year. It is hardly surpris-
ing that he is from Louisiana and even less startling
that he has a large financial stake in several Louis-
iana oil interests.
EVEN AFTER the leak, Louisiana officials seem-
ed to be more concerned about getting more rigs out
in the Gulf than anything else. The State Attorney
General remarked that the oil slick appeared to be
"an act of God." Meanwhile, in Baton Rouge, the
Lieutenant Governor was ranting about the federal
government's delay in granting new offshore drilling
leases.
War is good business, and so is oil. Oil is too
good a business to concern itself with, safety
devices.
If a federally required safety device had been

operative on the well that exploded and spewed oil
in the Gulf, the whole mess could have been
avoided. Regulations require all wells to have a storm
choke to cut off the flow of oil when it becomes
abnormally high. Such a choke costs all of $800
dollars.
The chokes are a nuisance, however, as they need
frequent cleaning and are easily damaged on sandy
ocean floors, and the federal government is general-
ly receptive to companies' requests to waive the re-
quirement. The infamous Well No. 6, the well that
blew, was supposed to have a choke, and no request
had been made to the government to waive the re-
quirement. Yet, when the well blew, the choke was
not on.
INTERIOR SECRETARY Walter Hickel said after
inspecting the site that "a choke would have cut
off the fire, no doubt about that." In other words,
if Well No. 6 had had a choke the surge in oil
initiated by the fire would have activiated the choke,
and taken the fuel from the fire. The result would
have been a short-lived fire and, at worse, a very
small slick.
Without the choke, the fire was completely out
of control for days, and even when the blaze was
extinguished, there was nothing down on the ocean
floor to keep the oil, forced up by pressures within
the earth's crust, from pouring to the surface. Con-
sidering the risks of the anticipated slick, it is a
wonder that the fire was not allowed to run its
course.

portrait
The forgotten man in all the hassle during and
after the slick has been the coastal resident; the
fisherman, the beachside motel owner and others
whose livelihood is dependant the natural resources
threatened by oil slicks.
Chevron, the oil company that owns Well No. 6,
was hit last week with a $75 million suit filed by nine
shrimp fisherman who charged that the slick could
cause permanent and substantial damage to the
shrimp industry. The spillage came at a particularly
bad time for shrimpers, for this is the time of year
when the shrimp migrate to breeding areas. Thus,
the number of shrimp that could conceivably be af-
fected by the oil and the chemicals that dissolved
is far greater than it would be at other times.
IN ADDITION to this suit, oystermen have filed a
claim for $31.5 million for the potential damage their
oyster beds could suffer. These suits are of a
nebulous legal nature, however, and it remains to
be seen if the fishermen will get any satisfaction
at all.
Even if the suits are successful, it is doubtful
that they will result in anything other than imme-
diate gains for the plaintiffs. They will not force
the oil companies into better policing themselves,
and until the howls of disgust cah penetrate the
courts and legislative bodies, enforcement will be
lax and regulations insufficient. A rhetorical com-
mitment to taking the steps to cut down on the
chances of more oil slicks occurring is hardly suf-
ficient.

A,

. . ..

CHARITY GAME:

Dartmouth College
Coeducational Summer Term
June 2--August 22

East notches win in King Classic

LOS ANGELES (OP) - Solo home
runs by Ron Fairly of Montreal
and Ron Santo of the Chicago
Cubs, plus a three-run eighth-
inning uprising, brought the East
a 5-1 victory over the West Sat-
urday in the Dr. Martin Luther

LIBERAL ARTS

King Jr. Memorial Baseball Clas- Southern California and Dodger
sic. star, was awarded the trophy as
A Crowd of 31,694 watched the the most valuable player in the
charity game in Dodger Stadium. game in which stars from both the
Proceeds go to the late Dr. King's National and American leagues
Southern Christian Leadership were divided geographically.
Conference and a memorial cen- Jim "Mudcat" Grant of Oak-
ter planned for Atlanta. land sang the national anthem in
Lew Krausse of Seattle was the the pregame program, and then
victim of both home runs, Fairly's became the victim of a four-hit
coming on his first pitch of the uprising by the East in the eighth
third inning and Santo's to open inning that insured the outcome.
the fourth. Al Kaline of Detroit beat out
Fairly, former University of an .minfield hit to open the frame

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and moved to second as Tom Agee
drove Hank Aaron to the left field
wall on a long fly.
Kaline raced home on Lou
Brock's double to left. Brock scor-
ed on Roberto Clemente's double
and Clemente came home on Ken
McMullen's single.
After Jackson put the W e s t
down in the seventh inning, he
gave up a single to Willie Davis,
opening the eighth.
Davis reached second after the
fcatch of Aaron's long fly and the
Dodger scored on a pinch-double
by Ken B e r r y of the Chicago
White Sox.
For his initial charity g a m e,
former New York Yankee great
Joe DiMaggio managed the East,
and ex-Dodger Roy Campenella,
confined to wheelchair sin c e a
1958 auto accident, directed the
fortunes of the West.
Denny McLain was to have rep-
resented the Tigers until he was
suspended for alleged gambling
activities. Freehan then replaced
McLain.
Coretta King, widow of the late
civil rights leader, threw out the
first ball, with Baseball Commis-
sioner Bowie Kuhn and a host of
Hollywood celebrities on hand.

.

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-Associated Press
NATE * ARCHIBALD (11) from the Western All-stars drives
around Charlie Scott (15) of the East late in the second half of
yesterday's game. The UTEP senior scored 35 points, but to no
avail, as the East triumphed 116-102.

Mount, McMillian pace East

633 S. MAIN
GULF CREDIT CARD ACCEPTED

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (A) - The
East, behind Charlie Scott's dazzl-
ing passes and the deadly shoot-
ing of Rick Mount and Jim Mc-
Millian, rolled to a 116-102 vic-
tory -Saturday in the college bas-
ketball East-West All-Star game.
The winners led safely from late
in the first half on, despite the
game-high 35 points by Nate Ar-
chibald of the West, a 6-foot-1

guard from Texas-El Paso. Ar-
chibald had 22 of his points in the
second half.
Scott, a 6-5 star from North Car-
olina, was named the outstanding
player in the nationally televised
game..He scored 18 points besides
setting up his teammates for easy
baskets throughout the game.
Purdue All-American M o u n t
made 10 of 15 field goal attempts

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and led the East with 25 points.
McMillian, from Columbia, had
23.
Rick, Erickson of Washington
State was second high behind
Archibald in scoring for the West4
with 16 points but had only two
in the second half. Jim Ard of
Cincinnati had 14.
Dave Sorenson of Ohio State,
who had seven points in the East
drive at the end of the first half,
totaled 17 for the game. He,
Rudy Tomjanovich'of Michigan .
and McMillian gave the East a re-
bounding edge in the second half.
Collins signs
with Chicago
CHICAGO (A") - The Chicago
Bulls of the National Basketball
Association Saturday signed their
No. 1 draft choice, Jimmy Collins
of New Mexico State, to a three- f
year contract.
Terms were not disclosed by
Pat Williams, Bulls' general man-
ager, who said the club had rated
Collins third behind Pete Mara-
vich of Louisiana State and Bob
Lanier of St. Bonaventure in
preference.
Collins, 6-foot-2, a fine outside
shooter was drafted by the Los
Angeles Stars of the rival Ameri-
can Basketball Association.

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