Letters to the Editor: Don’t trust anything the oil companies say about the O.C. spill

Blobs of crude oil on sand at a river's mouth.
Crude oil covers sand at the mouth of the Santa Ana River in Newport Beach on Oct. 3.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: In 1990, I stood at the tide line as a petty officer in the U.S. Coast Guard at the moment when oil first hit the beach from the American Trader spill, which devastated the exact same areas that are once again being poisoned today.

To hear BP (which had chartered the stricken tanker) and the press back then, the cleanup was a remarkable success of manpower and technology. But as someone who was on the ground every day for two weeks of that spill, I can tell you that BP made a bigger mess on the beach than if it had just left it alone.

Clearly the lesson learned from the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 was to get in front of the story in the press, not to diligently clean the ocean. So I beg the journalists covering the Orange County spill today not to trust the corporate press releases. Let’s listen to real reporters out there on the ocean, the beaches and in wetlands to see how the actual cleanup is going and what this is doing to our precious coastal environment.


It sickens me that 31 years later, it is déjà vu all over again. I am disappointed that oil still powers our cars, electricity plants, businesses and politics.

Chris Flynn, Irvine


To the editor: This oil spill is another example of the intrinsic destruction of fossil fuel extraction and pathological irresponsibility of the oil industry.

At a time when our fire season has become unending, when our weather patterns are becoming more extreme and unpredictable, and when our oceans are dying from the carbon pollution we’ve spent centuries forcing them to absorb, lawmakers have no moral choice but to outlaw offshore drilling.

Cancel all current leases and ban future drilling on those sites. Force the oil companies to pay for their workers’ retraining in responsible careers. Put an end to the sacrifice of our planet for the sake of the enrichment of these latter-day robber barons.

Matthew Enger, Pasadena


To the editor: I agree with Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) that these spills are as tragic as they are preventable.

How in this day and age could an oil company not know about a leak immediately? Maybe because, as The Times noted, the oil operation responsible for this spill recently reduced its capital expenditures, evidently so it could give money to shareholders. The company’s next stop will probably be bankruptcy to avoid paying what it will owe.

I find it especially ironic that Rep. Michele Steele (R-Seal Beach) asked the federal government to immediately assist in recovery efforts. Her party has been trying to dismantle crucial parts of the federal government since the Reagan era.

It appears the federal government is useful when it suits your needs.

Chris Pisano, Rancho Palos Verdes


To the editor: Whenever there is a huge spill of solar energy, they call it a nice day.

Sara R. Nichols, Los Angeles