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Oil Spill Cleanup

October 19, 1994

* The Times report on the Unocal oil spill in San Luis Obispo County ("Setbacks Slow Cleanup of Huge Oil Spill," Oct. 11) ignores several essential aspects.

In accordance with the Federal Oil Pollution Act of 1990, the lead agency for the response to the spill is the U.S. Coast Guard. State agencies are participating in the cleanup pursuant to that law and to formal agreement with the Coast Guard. The Times did not make this clear or quote a single federal official.

By the same logic that Gov. Pete Wilson should personally receive criticism for the conduct of the Department of Fish and Game, should not President Clinton be held responsible for the specific actions of the Coast Guard? Obviously not. In the case of the state, this matter has been directed continuously by experts on the scene with oversight by and communication with other supervisory officials as appropriate.

Despite the fact that over 34,000 gallons of diluent have been recovered thus far and that our eventual efforts will prevent a much greater quantity of this substance from reaching marine waters, critics complain that we have acted too quickly. Yet, they fail to cite specifically the environmental harm of the cleanup. Nor do they offer any alternative to the current course of action. Even the chemist whose study they cite stated: "They're (the responding agencies) doing a very good job. . . . It has been a very successful project."

The state is dedicated to an aggressive and open multi-agency response to the spill and the pursuit of all legal remedies against the responsible party, Unocal. Why does The Times insist on giving credibility to unsubstantiated charges by those who only want to play politics?



Office of Oil Spill Prevention

and Response, Sacramento

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