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May 12th, 2010 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

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Has there ever been a major oil spill in Oregon? Are we about due for one? I could go for some blackened salmon right about now.

—Jared in Lake O

Har de har har. You might think that, with no oil wells and no refineries in the state, massive oil spills are one thing we don’t have to worry about. Think again: Tankers carrying hundreds of thousands of barrels of refined petroleum navigate the Columbia all the time.

But rivers are safer than the big, nasty ocean, right? Actually, no—for example, there have been two spills in excess of 200,000 gallons on the Mississippi in the past decade.

“There’s not a whole lot of room for error on the river,” says Oregon DEQ’s Mike Zollitsch, adding that the mouth of the Columbia is considered so treacherous that local pros have to be helicoptered out to guide large ships through it.

So far we’ve been (relatively) lucky—the worst spill in recent memory was a 1994 refueling mishap that dumped a paltry 5,000 gallons of bunker fuel into the Columbia near Longview, Wash. But a major spill in Oregon waters seems all too possible.

Speaking of spills: As you know, the oil spill in the Gulf is a potential disaster for Mother Earth. Well, guess what responders need to fight it? Human hair.

Are you listening, hippies? In the course of human events, it’s exceedingly rare that an opportunity like this comes along, where a cause you support so strongly asks for something of which you have so much. It’s sort of like if you could save Star Trek by donating your virginity.

So get to buzzing. I expect to see so many crewcuts that next Saturday Market will look like Fleet Week. Salons, hippies and Sasquatches can learn more at matteroftrust.org.

 
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