Some interesting news regarding an oil spill in Montana, USA, came up on twitter last weekend:
An Exxon-Mobil pipeline that runs along the Yellowstone River had an oil spill on July 1st. It is estimated that 750 to 1000 barrels off oil had spilt into the river. Apparently, the Yellowstone River is the longest undammed river in the US and is also the tributary to the famous Missouri River. Now, compared to the famous Exxon Valdez (1989, 260,000 barrels into Alaska) or the BP Gulf Oil Spill (2010, 4.9million barrels into the Gulf of Mexico), this spill was rather small, but the main point in the article was about the damage to wildlife and how it is hard to predict the long-term damage of the spill.
It is sometimes quite amazing how old news is forgotten, and as soon as Tsunamis were hitting Japan and Natalie Portman winning Oscars took over the news, no one around me was talking about the BP Oil spill anymore. It was as if everything had finished as soon as the leak was stopped. The ecologist in the article said “it could take years to really understand the impact of the spill” of 750 barrels in the Yellowstone river, so how long is it going to take to understand what 4.9million barrels did to the gulf and the world?
It is disappointing to find out that Exxon-Mobil could have built the Pipeline deeper under the riverbed to prevent these kinds of problems. The company chose the cheaper option of building it above the river. As of July 1, 2010, ExxonMobil occupied 8 out of 10 slots for Largest Corporate Quarterly Earnings of All Time. Furthermore, it occupies 5 out of 10 slots on Largest Corporate Annual Earnings, and in 2005, ExxonMobil had committed less than 1% of their profits towards researching alternative energy.
I took a look at the Safety&Environment tab of the ExxonMobil website, and once again had a few questions about what they say and what they do. I believe that as long as the stance of Exxon and other multinational companies changes from just talking to actually being productive, there is no hope for the future in creating a sustainable environment.