WASHINGTON OIL SPILL: costing $11 billion every 1000 years?


A major spill at the mouth of the Columbia River or in the Strait of Juan de Fuca could cost Washingtonstate 165,000 jobs and $10.8 billion in economic losses, and is more likely to occur as enforcement by the state’s oil spill program has been slashed.

Risky business?

Over 15 billion gallons of oil transit through the are and it is increasing. Each tanker can carry about 36 million gallons of crude oil and another million gallons of heavy bunker fuel to power the ship.

Yet, funding is being cut – with personnel down 10% in FY11 – to below $15 million per year.

Outrage has been expressed by the workers, indigenous communities and other stakeholders who cannot understand the mis-match between tanker traffic and enforcement.

This conundrum seeks answer to the question of risk from oil spills. Is the chance of a catastrophic oil spill at the mouth of the Columbia River more than 1 in 1,000 years? The state has decided not … or has it realised that the chances of it happening during the next political cycle are very low indeed? This feels like risky business to the Slick Economist.

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2 Responses to WASHINGTON OIL SPILL: costing $11 billion every 1000 years?

  1. Lance Froude says:

    Dear SE. Not sure of your numbers here. What nominal discount factor did u use for the thousand year prediction? No doubting, the graph speaks volumes. Costs being slashed at the short term expense of greater potential of oil spills in the USA. My question is this being cut to or from the level of globally agreed best practice? We’ve a long history in Americas of seeing risks on a different scale from the rest of the world. Lance Froude

    • Good point Lance.
      We’d assumed the cuts would imperil but aware the overall risks may simply be dropping to industry standard.
      Clarification from vessel captains or other dock navigation teams welcomed.
      SlickEconomist

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