Sue Libenson, of Pacific Environment, in the National Observer, Canada, April 4th 2019: Canada can’t rely on luck to protect northern waters
Last week marked the thirtieth anniversary of the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill. As director of the largest, local conservation group in Alaska back then, my life was immediately overtaken by trying to compel response to the spill, manage clean-up of oiled marine life, and search for long term policy fixes.
Typically, this anniversary is a time when I reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go to protect the safety of our seas and mariners, especially in northern waters.
But, instead I was transfixed by a narrowly averted disaster as the disabled Viking Sky cruise ship rolled in heavy seas off the coast of Norway. With over 1,300 passengers and crew at risk, a dramatic rescue was launched, lifting close to five hundred passengers one-by-one from the foundering ship to a helicopter battling strong winds. Nine crew members of a nearby cargo ship also had to be plucked from the sea when they were forced to abandon ship in the extreme conditions.