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Houston Breakthrough, February 1980
Pages 24 and 25
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Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Pages 24 and 25. February 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. July 31, 2015. http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/363.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

(February 1980). Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Pages 24 and 25. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/363

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, February 1980 - Pages 24 and 25, February 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed July 31, 2015, http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/371/show/363.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, February 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date February 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Physical Description 32 page periodical
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Format (IMT)
  • image/jpeg
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
File Name index.cpd
Item Description
Title Pages 24 and 25
File Name femin_201109_557aw.JPG
Transcript ficials were not only unable to cap the well, they were also unable to contain the northward flow of the spill. Captain Charles Corbett, Chief of the Marine Environmental Protection Division, U.S. Coast Guard, Co-Chair, National Response Team: On several occasions during this whole period of time, the National Response Team has gone on record through the Department of State to Mexico that we would be happy to provide any assistance that we could. For a good while, Mexico used what they considered to be the best in industry versus the best government approach. So we were not requested to participate in Mexico until fairly well on in the spill. As a matter of fact, it was the 18th of July that we received a message that the government of Mexico might be willing to accept some assistance in the pollution aspects of the spill. Wright: Captain Charles Corbett of the U.S. Coast Guard and Ken Biglane of the Environmental Protection Agency are co-chairmen of the National Response Team. The national team is a policy-making body that responds to spills of oil and other hazardous materials. Captain Corbett: When we decided that the oil, in fact, was going to reach the Texas coast, the predesignated on-scene coordinator began to gear up for just such an occurrence. We identified equipment throughout the country, people we might use in response to the spill, transportation corridors we might use to get the equipment there, and so forth. Wright: In this case, the predesignated on-scene coordinator was Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander Jim Paskewich. Jim Paskewich: The primary area that the scientific assessment team determined that had to be protected at all cost was essentially Laguna Madre. In other words, everything behind the barrier islands was very, very sensitive from an ecological viewpoint. That had to do with the estuaries, which were the spawning grounds for shrimp, which is a major industry here in the state of Texas. Many, many juvenile species are bred in the Laguna Madre. There also are some very sensitive plant life there, and all indications show that that was the area that had to be protected most, and our response strategy then was to examine how we could best accomplish that. And what we found was this kind of beach in the Texas area is very hard-packed; and if oil did come ashore, the ecological damage in comparison with it landing on the beach was drastically less than if it showed up in these back waters in Laguna Madre. Therefore, we decided that the best way to do it was to protect all the inlets. In other words, if we mobilize men, material and equipment to stop the oil from going through the inlets that allow the oil to hit the beach, and clean it up when it was on the beach as necessary, that that would essentially be the most productive from an environmental viewpoint, and also a financial viewpoint. Wright: The Coast Guard's strategy proved successful as far as the valuable spawning grounds are concerned. What little oil did seep past the barrier islands was cleaned up immediately. Other forms of wildlife in the area were only minimally disturbed. Robert Whistler: Initially, the things we did notice was the fact that the birdlife seemed to disappear, and this was pronounced in those birds that feed primarily along the shore zone -the willets, for example. We didn't have any idea what happened to them. We were worried that perhaps they might have ingested oil products. . . . They just disappeared. They were forced to [other] areas for feeding, [for] a source of food. So the impact on this sort of thing we noticed. The impact on the invertebrates [was more] subtle. . . There was some impact on some of the birds that feed out on the open gulf, and because they feed out there, they were more prone to be affected by the oil. Some of the blue-faced boobies, and some of these other kinds of birds [that] washed in were covered with oil. And these were primarily the only ones that we had a problem with. Wright: Bob Whistler is the chief naturalist at the Padre Island National Seashore. His office is Employees of the Coast Guard shovel mounds of crude oil from the Campeche oil spill. responsible for protecting and maintaining the beaches and wildlife of the Padre Island National Park. Bob Whistler: I would say that there's perhaps half a dozen birds or so, and there was a Fish and Wildlife team and center established to take care of oiled birds, so there was provision made for this sort of thing. So we didn't have the impact that we were really concerned with in this regard. Wright: But while the spawning grounds and wildlife were being protected, the Padre Island beaches took a beating. On August 6th, large concentrations of tar balls began drifting ashore. On August 15th, oil slicks of varying size and density landed on the beaches. Jim Paskewich: The problem here is that you have hundreds of miles of coast that you have to look at and protect and deploy equipment and you have to try to clean up. So the magnitude of the problem is much, much more than just having an isolated area where, once the event has happened, you go in, you clean it up, you boom it off, or use some other kind of devices to isolate it. But here it is completely different. You have an impact, you go and clean it up. And maybe, two days later, the same area that you just cleaned is reimpacted. And those are the type of things that you have to face. So, for a while there, it looked like a never-ending battle. Wright: The beaches of South Padre Island are prime tourist attractions. During a normal summer season, people from all over the world come to South Padre to bask in the sun and drift in the warm Gulf waters. The tourist trade usually accounts for 50 million dollars in revenue. But this summer was different. Heavy concentrations of oil were present on South Padre beaches for only about two weeks in mid-August. Even so, negative publicity in the press caused business to drop off severely long before the first slick washed ashore. Paul Cunningham, South Padre Island City Attorney: Tourism has been affected by virtue of the publicity of the oil spill because it's human nature. You don't want to take a vacation somewhere where it might not be as enjoyable as you thought it would be; or it might be spoiled by virtue of the beaches not being usable. I wouldn't want to go someplace and spend a hundred, a hundred and fifty dollars a day for my vacation with my family with the thought that we couldn't enjoy the facilities. And mostly it has been fear that has affected the tourism down here, not the oil spill itself. Ralph Thompson, South Padre Island Tourist Bureau: Business fell off as much as 70% of what it would have been. So I say we've lost... several millions of dollars ... as a direct result of the spill and the publicity. Skipper Ray, Charter Boat Captain: I was running 45 trips a month and I expected to run at least 30 in the month of September and 40 in the month of August; ... I think I did 15 trips in August and something like five or six in September. Fishing was good but there wasn't nobody to take. Jimmy Halliburton, Store Owner: We've cut our hours and employees back, we're just more or less on a skeleton crew, just enough to man the place. We're spending all of our personal money trying to keep it going, because I was determined not to close. But if they don't do something quick, well, then, we're going to have to, because I can't.. .Well, you just finally run out of money. Wright: The only type of financial help that has been offered so far is low-interest small business administration loans. South Padre residents are quick to point out, however, that in most cases, these loans are not enough. Paul Cunningham: Interest, all it is is just a cheaper interest rate. Compared to commercial lending, it could be a four or five thousand dollar saving-all of it would be in one year-and a loan is like anything else: you've got to pay it back, so I'm not really out to borrow more money to pay back next year. Jimmy Halliburton: They told us that if there was any lag in it, they would have people directly from Washington down here to help us, to expedite this, and they haven't done it. They've sent letters out; they're treating it more like a small business loan, not an economic disaster loan. Wright: The lack of immediate help and attention from Washington has left many people on South Padre feeling like the federal government has forgotten them. Some think that the recent U.S.-Mexican sales negotiations are the reason for Washington's lack of support. Kirby Lilljedahl, City Manager, South Padre Island: Trying to communicate with Washington is virtually impossible, in the short term. We don't know what was going on with respect to our State Department and their State Department involving the oil and gas negotiations, as it may have affected the oil spill. We're just not privileged to that, so I just don't know. We probably feel that our problem was certainly not number one on the State Department's priority. Jimmy Halliburton: I think that the federal government is more interested in Mexico and their dealings with them than they are in us, because the only contact that we've had with the federal government in a way is the small business administration and Senator Tower's office. Wright: Officials in Washington, however, feel like the federal government has done a lot to alleviate the problems caused by the spill. Robert Krueger is Ambassador-at-large-desig- nate for Mexican affairs. He has participated in the sales negotiations for several months. He states that no type of trade-off was arranged. Robert Krueger: Since July, I have participated in all the discussions in oil and natural gas that were going on between our governments. The question of the oil spill never at any time arose in any of those discussions. There was no sort of quid pro cmjo trade-off. We simply negotiated with them in a commercial transaction, with the outlines of a natural gas agreement. What has been done on the federal level in the first instance is the federal government has spent something like $75,000 a day from the revolving fund, in order to help cover clean-up costs. I think that is a significant amount. It is not an amount that would cover all damages that might be brought, but there is probably no way of assessing that in advance. In other cases, there is legislation that may be brought before the congress to specifically address this concern and damages that individuals may have suffered because of this. We are dealing right now with the Justice Department and the legal section of the State Department to see what the [legal] options are for the U.S. government. There is a deficiency, or lack, of any very extensive international existing body of law for questions of this kind. Wright: This is not the first time that the United States has been involved with Mexico in a controversy of this kind. In the early 1960's, a serious problem arose concerning the quality of water flowing from the Colorado River into northern Mexican farmlands. This situation is the basis for Mexico's refusal to compensate Americans affected by the spill. T. R. Martin: The problem began in 1961 when, by an unpredicted confluence of circumstances, the salinity of the water we were delivering to Mexico more than doubled. We were surprised but Mexico, of course, was on the burdened end, and complained at once. Wright: T. R. Martin is a special assistant in the State Department's Mexican Affairs office. He is also acknowledged as the department's foremost expert on the Mexican-American salinity crisis. T. R. Martin: It was our belief that agricultural drainage was not a contaminant under international law, that many agricultural areas were drained into the Colorado River up and down the river. And secondly, because of the provision of the treaty that Colorado River water HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 24 FEBRUARY 1980 HOUSTON BREAKTHROUGH 25 FEBRUARY 1980