I received notice of this August 24 presentation in Smithers from the Friends of Morice-Bulkley - as always, it's the stories people tell that really illustrate the impact of oil spills - and bravo to the folks who take the time to share their stories, as so many have done at the Joint Review Panel hearings.
A coalition of First Nation organizers and conservation organizations are sponsoring Dr. Riki Ott, a renowned marine toxicologist and oil spill expert on a speaking tour throughout British Columbia in August. Friends of Morice-Bulkley are hosting Dr. Ott at the Old Church in Smithers on Friday, August 24 at 7 pm. Everyone is invited to this free event.
In her talk, "Think Tankers -- and what comes along with them", Ott shares stories of accidental activists from the Exxon Valdez spill, the BP Gulf of Mexico disaster, the Enbridge Michigan spill and more, showing the devastating costs of our fossil fuel dependency on communities across North America. Her stories show what ordinary people are doing to create more self-reliant, sustainable, and democratic communities. Ott engages the audience to imagine what it would take to transition off fossil fuels and confront the dangerous expansion of corporate power – and inspires people to take action.
Ott says, "I spent a year in Gulf of Mexico communities after the BP oil disaster, warning people what to expect based on my experience with the Exxon Valdez oil spill. In Cordova, Alaska, we learned that the oil industry does not know how to clean up oil – there would be a cover up, not a clean up. Sure enough, people in the Gulf are sick, wildlife is sick, tons of oil is still everywhere, and the government and oil industry are working together to minimize the appearance of damages and BP's response costs."
Ott found this same story of deception and harm is repeating in Michigan communities after the Enbridge pipeline tar sands spill in July 2010. Ott is working with community organizers in Michigan to launch a pilot community health survey in areas impacted by the tar sands spill. "In Michigan, we're dealing with incredibly toxic oil – pretty much the same stuff that the Canadian government wants to bring through BC. Tar sands oil is concentrated in the heavy particulates that harm the respiratory system, the reproductive system, immune function, the central nervous system, the stomach, bladder, liver, skin, and more. The diluents – the chemicals used to dilute the thick tar sands – also are linked with a host of human illnesses."
"I want to share these stories and experiences with people in British Columbia because you still have a chance to prevent the harms that have happened in Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico, and Michigan. It's far better to fight to stop the pipelines and tankers now than to loose your health, your traditional foods, and your families after a spill."