There are no easy or cheap solutions to the frightening problem of tanker spills, only complex and relatively expensive ones.
But almost all the complex and expensive ones are considerably better than the hasty solutions that will inevitably be proposed if the public becomes even more frightened about the specter of a supertanker spill spoiling an entire coastline or befouling a whole bay. Irresponsible scaremongering? Consider the mess, political as well as ecological, in Alaska.
It's time for serious anti-spill action. Last week more than 4 million gallons of oil gushed out of the stricken tanker Mega Borg and invaded the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The accident revived memo- ries of the American Trader spill off Huntington Beach in February, not to mention the Exxon Valdez disaster.
Exxon is out of pocket about $2 billion (and counting) for that one. How much better it would have been for that company and the industry as a whole--not to mention the Alaskan environment--if new regulations and procedures had been in place to minimize spill damage and to maximize the effectiveness of cleanups.