An Exxon Valdez for Port Phillip Bay

It’s funny the way authorities and investigative panels into the dredging of Port Phillip Bay haven’t taken aboard the risk of an Exxon Valdez oil spill. It’s funny because Captain Frank Hart, a former harbor master, told them it’s not if it happens but when. This is the reason it will happen and that no one wants to know about: coming through the most dangerous waters in the world (the Rip) all large vessels have to enter at angle to the run-out tide, that can reach 14 knots, to enter the southern channel that is approx 180 metres wide. At the angle required, a 50 metres wide vessel can be as wide as 140 metres. This means no safety space.

Add to that the average of three vessels that have run aground each year since 1974. Those have remained secret, although Frank Hart discovered this to be a fact when he applied for the figures with a freedom of information demand. With the regular size vessels they are about the same depth as the Great Sands and so can scrape along. Not so the new giant vessels that will be 3 to 4 metres deeper. They will be stuck fast or vulnerable to rocks that have been discovered lodged in the Great Sands.

The funny part is that there has been no math on the possibility of an Exxon Valdez, despite the conditions; the protesters have been silenced with a threat to be ridiculed if they dare utter Exxon Valdez.

Coastal geomorphologist, a former environmental consultant to the former premier, and weatherman, Rob Gell, in my doco, The Last Good Summer, has stated that an Exxon Valdez scenario is a serious possibility. The doco has been shown eight times on television but he will no longer give interviews.

It’s the way things are of course. Conrad once wrote, “Only let the material interests once get a firm footing, and they are bound to impose the conditions on which they alone can continue to exist.” Those material interest have overridden the first two environmental reports in favour of a bodgy third report that has not covered any of the original material, and the Premier has said the dredging will go ahead anyway.

Hey but listen to this – also from Joseph Conrad, “Industrialism and Commercialism – wearing high sound names in many languages … stand ready, almost eager, to appeal to the sword as soon as the globe of the earth has shrunk beneath our growing numbers by another ell or so. And democracy which has elected to pin its faith on the supremacy of material interest will have to fight its battle to the bitter end, and on a mere pittance …”


One Response

  1. The funny part is that there has been no math on the possibility of an Exxon Valdez, despite the conditions; the protesters have been silenced on on a threat to ridicule if they dare utter Exxon Valdez.
    Hey Utter It!

    Here in the Puget Sound not only do we utter the story about the Exxon Valdez we never fail to mention that alcohol was involved- we write stories about it and it’s one of our favorite arguements for” why Oil Companies are the Devil’s Spawn ”

    You know, sometimes you gotta pull out those ” kick me hard ” signs and slap them on a few backs.

    Great Blog.


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