Today marks the 25th Anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster that took place in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Its was tragic, natural disaster that ultimately was caused by human negligence in various formats. Although the size of the oil spill is widely disputed, the official number puts it at 11 million gallons of crude oil. Several environmental groups put the number closer to 25 million gallons. Regardless, it was a tragedy of epic proportions…millions and millions of gallons of junk were dumped into the environment.
Do you remember the social uproar? Do you remember the response of the environmental groups from around the world? I do, and they were right and changes have been made to reduce the likelihood of something like this happening again. That’s not to say that things are perfect, but they are better.
On March 3, 2016 a holding pond on the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky, MT. leaked over 25 million gallons of treated sewage water into the Gallatin River Drainage. The cause seems to be the result of some pipe damage due to unusual ice formations in the pond. This too has been a natural disaster tragedy, but the difference is that this has happened in our own backyard. The hope is that the damage to the environment will be minimal and only time will tell.
I wonder why I haven’t heard any uproar from the environmental groups with accusations of human negligence by now. I’m no expert or even remotely informed in regard to sewage wastewater pond engineering…so I could be wrong here…for sure. But, it seems like a poor idea to put such a pond at the top of stream drainage, against a steep slope, and to not have a sufficient “back up” system in place to protect against infrastructure failures. I have no idea what 25 million gallons of treated wastewater looks like, but it sure sounds like a lot when you think of it relative to the size of the Exxon Valdez Spill.
Yes, I am aware that these two events are dramatically different in terms of their environmental damage. Neither of them should have happened.