River a foretelling of mammals existence?

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Friday, May 04, 2007

There was a time when intelligent beings believed the oceans were infinite, that the planet’s atmosphere could not be contaminated, that cigarettes were actually good for your health, and that our pristine waters and aquifers could not be polluted.

Were we all ignoramuses or what? The U.S. EPA has been in existence only 37 years.

Recently, there were several reports in the media that Cook Inlet beluga whales had decreased in number from more than 1,300 to about 300 in the last decade. That’s a shocking statistic. But how would you like to forage for your food in a sea of pollution?

Every summer from May through September, the Kenai River alone dumps tens of thousands of gallons of gasoline and other hydrocarbons into the inlet. And the rivers at the north end and west side of Cook Inlet have no regulations on the boat motors used there at all. This pollution doesn’t include the hundreds of tons of unidentified oil drilling waste annually released directly to the inlet from drilling platforms or the billions of gallons of partially treated sewage dumped into the inlet each year

It also doesn’t include the massive amounts of polluted runoff that contain commonly used solvents, fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and, even worse, chemicals that find their way, via various drainages, into the inlet.

This “soup” is what our marine mammals (and indigenous fish) are forced to swim in to catch their dinner(s).

So, what’s being done about this mess? If the “impaired” Kenai River hydrocarbon remediation plan is any example, the answer is very little. We’ve only known of the Kenai River problem for 15 years? The ADEC seems content to “study” the problem, while formulating a corrective action plan (maybe?) by 2011

But what about the marine mammals and the marine fisheries? Will we wake up one day and find out Cook Inlet salmon, halibut and clams are no longer good to eat? And were the harbingers of this potential calamity the “mysterious” disappearance(s) of our Cook Inlet marine mammals?

Richard Hahn


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