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.
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.
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.