thumbnail of Issue and inquiry; 10; Oil in Santa Barbara
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
And. From Northeastern University the National Information Network presents issue and inquiry. Allowed the development in the open rosters of an open seat. We did not consider the ecological effects we did not have a study on the ecological effects we have no knowledge of the long term ecological effects really strongly suspect from the numbers of dead birds that we have seen that this is not good for our food supply. We do not know nor does any governmental body know nor does any scientific body know as yet whether or not there is any total ecological effect. Really do not want anything to happen until we find out. This is Santa Barbara stand. We would like to have all of those studies
pursued before anybody makes any decision about your environment and mine. This week on issue an inquiry and former member of the California state legislature Tom Solon and Dick Smith of the Santa Barbara News Press discussing the oil in Santa Barbara. The pollution tragedy here is your host Joseph R. Bader. Santa Barbara California a city of more than 100000 Americans noted for its beautiful beaches noted for its magnificent scenery and now oddly enough noted for oil. On January 28 1969 an oil well blowout of the Union oil company's platform A in the Santa Barbara Channel off the coast of California expelled over two million gallons of uncontrolled oil into surrounding waters. And now the Santa Barbara coast is ravaged by the smelly sticky mess of oil run wild.
The winds and the tides carry the oil from oil well platforms and periodically re black on the shores. Santa Barbara street their city has a natural resource and they now say the tourist trade has fallen off sharply. At one time hundreds of thousands of tourists used Santa Barbara Channel and shores for swimming boating and fishing. But now beach users are required to wear special shoes. Skin Divers are discouraged from diving and fisherman can no longer be sure that the fish they catch will be good to eat. The militant people of Santa Barbara after witnessing the oil's attack on their shores have adopted 11 come out about Thou shalt not abuse the earth. And yet in contrast the Union Oil companies private magazine recently proclaimed that Santa Barbara's beaches are back to normal. And so you have it. They conflicting sides of the Santa Barbara oil story. On the one hand the people of Santa Barbara feel the oil threat to their beaches still exists on the other hand. Executives of you don't at all feel that this threat has been eliminated.
And the question is simple Where does the truth lie. We took our microphones to California to investigate the Santa Barbara oil story and first we talk with one guy and an outspoken citizen of Santa Barbara a former member of the California legislature. We asked Mr. Wind God how the oil well blowout is affecting the people of Santa Barbara from January 28 when the blowout occurred and subsequently This is probably been the most traumatic experience. Most of us in Santa Barbara have felt I have lived here for nearly 40 years. And I've gone through earthquakes and floods and fires but nothing equaled the devastation and intensity of the of this oil spill disaster. The smith people live in this country they live it and they love it. And this entire community starts at about oh I would say the rest of the point would be sea level and at the highest point it's
2000 feet and every home spill down onto the sea and everyone says I can see the ocean from my house you know. And the mountains too but they want to see that ocean and they want to see the sunset out over the ocean. And this is the pride and the pleasure of not having to go very far to go down and rock on a beach not a Coney Island not a well-regulated beach but miles of endless coastline filled with the mysteries of the sea. And nobody wants to rock along and get his feet on the oil and see and listen to and cry inside at the plight of a bird or oil soaked and dying. There is something which is not environmental and it is not economic. And yet there is a vague effect which I want you to talk about about what is happening in the hearts and minds of the people in this community what is the gut effect. Bob Simon Well I would take issue with your phrasing in the question I think this psychosocial thing is environmental or ecological. People
are here not only for economic reasons and living here not because I can't get a job somewhere else and maybe I can get a job somewhere else that will pay better and this doesn't interest me you know I like Santa Barbara and I'm going to stay here. I'm going to stay here because the beauty of the community and I think that I've got a lot of company in this category the psychosocial. Impact on people here did stem not so much from the economic impact but primarily from the ecological from the inverse environmental threat. A lot of people are living here who aren't employed there. They've come here to retire. Some of them have a considerable amount of money many more than is generally realized. I hear living beyond their means and they're somehow they're making a go because they want to be here. And when they saw this happen to their community this was the impact not that they couldn't go somewhere else. They could and I could go somewhere else we don't want to. Santa Barbara is it
has a song that you learned understand after you've been you know that's simply the way it is. That's why it is so important that this oil catastrophe happened in Santa Barbara. There is a sort of a. Reverse advantage to it's happening here if it had if it had happened in almost any other community up or down the coast of California. I think the community would have knuckled under to their oil and interests would have accepted the Interior Department's policies on this and said All right you people know best or you people have got the money or we've got to play ball with you because our economy depends on it. And if you want to be an oil city will be an oil city. But in Santa Barbara the people here are making a stand a stand for the right to have a voice and determination of its environment. And they're making a stand here I think that would not have been made in any other community in the United States. This is why this is a tremendously important case study. If
it isn't made here then it's impossible for me to say what it might have been made. Pressure from the citizens of Santa Barbara forced the oil companies to take quick action in trying to stop a number of oil leaks which resulted from the original blowout. Some of these actions were successful and others were not. We asked Bob Solon of the Santa Barbara News-Press just what had been done to stop the leakage. Oh a lot of things have been attempted most of the things that were attempted in the early days of the leak were unsuccessful but they've had an awful lot of time to experiment. The most effective thing that has been done is the development of large plastic tents or hoods that are then placed over most or many of the leaks in the area around platform A. These traps you know a considerable amount of it and this trapped oil is then to the platform through flexible plastic tubes and put in
tanks there were it separated the oil that is then pumped ashore and the water is returned back into the channel. So it would certainly in my opinion as I travel around the country be nothing short of amazing if the proverbial a gray flannel suit fell all the conservative. Grope would be tempted to seek radical solutions to social problems. Dick. Well on a purely local basis let's consider the fact that if a man get in the gray flannel suit or give him an investment of vested interest in the community from a monetary return standpoint he's got to have the monetary return. You can change the nature of the community but you cannot change the nature of an investment overnight. And if an investment is based on something that is akin to what Santa Barbara stands for and in our particular case it has long stood for the recreation concepts the truest value for a large part and the truest value goes much deeper than that. If
the trusts no longer are attracted to our beaches because they are no longer tourist type beaches then the motel and hotel association is going to suffer on a long term basis rather than on a short term basis and therefore the nature of the community changes the nature of the investments change. And none of us at this moment see any value in making such a change. After all if you have got a beautiful situation why should you want to change that situation in return for a mess of pottage. Even though the mess of pottage might have more total value. The city of Santa Barbara is dependent upon its tourist trade. The long term effects of miles over on the coastline on a sea resort can be devastating to its economy. We asked reporters Dick Smith and Bob Solon of the Santa Barbara press to discuss for our audience the actual dollar bill effect on the Santa Barbara economy.
But we need a check earlier in the year. We compared the tourist increases about of us and below us on the south coast and found that there were indeed increases in the amount of tourist travel and tourist expenditures tourist money is expended. But in the Santa Barbara region the tourist dollars diminished during the summer months fewer people came here for obvious reasons. Specifically what kinds of statistics have you been able to collect. Bob Sullivan on the exact percentage decrease of the tourist trade here in Santa Barbara. But the best indication is the revenue from the county bed tax every hotel and motel pays a certain tax to the county for each room that rents during the year the figures and this unfortunately are not compiled very promptly. However during the first weeks of the tourist season. We do have the definite figures for those I don't have them at hand but it did indicate a definite drop from the year before which was even greater than it would
appear on the surface because each year the increase has been between 5 and 10 percent this year. Not only was the increase not there but there was a drop in the number of tourists as measured very concretely by this bed tax. Many of the other economic factors can't be determined definitely so far such as the fishing industry this is still a controversy as the fishing industry has suffered severely. There are fishermen out here who absolutely deny that there's been any problem at all and there are other fishermen who say that everything is falling out of the fishing industry. Somewhere between these two extremes. We will have the answer to this in regard to fish and regard to other wildlife marine life and life in the intertidal zone and so forth. This is something that's going to take at least a couple seasons to determine. What the effect really has been on the wildlife here next month. There was an interesting point here because of the way that the let us say at the height of the problem there was a study asked for and the study was asked for
in the name of run of the groups this is a group of people who got together and asked the local university personnel some of the members of the staff of the University of California at Santa Barbara a sea oriented University. They were asked if they would make a study on the ecological effects. And the question came up among the professors how was this study going to be conducted and how is it going to be used. We will pay you. The statement was for the study really determine the publications the use of the material really will maintain all of that material we will use of that what we refer you will not receive a copy of the unified report in other words the man declined to assist in such a study. This gives you a fairly good example of that you can array that goes on which could amount to a very good cover up approach. Many cities on the California coast receive revenue from oil companies
for oil company facilities that are located on shore. We were interested to find out if Santa Barbara is one of these cities and we ask Dick Smith about this matter and he gave us this answer. If you're thinking in terms of royalties and revenues of that type absolutely nothing. There is no return on these federal leases by the barrel right ever directly to the governmental bodies here on the shores of the county of Santa Barbara or the city of Santa Barbara. We could have some in direct revenues of course we do have a minor indirect revenue those persons who live here but the bulk of the people who live on the platform and work on those platforms as employees and work on the boats and so forth. The largest share of those people live in our neighboring county to the South Bend County which is rather an oil oriented community. But the people of the community of Santa Barbara in the south coast area have decided they did not want onshore facilities of nature. And so consequently they have denied these outfits the
right to put any of these things on so we don't get any revenue. If you want to just a simple answer no we don't get a thing from the federal government's leasing of the well off shore. All right don't you do as the county to the south of you closer to Los Angeles has done and that is ok onshore installations is there any disadvantage to onshore installations. Never gonna buy one. It's a there's a limit to how much you can smell in the community and if you have a community that is oriented to the sea and takes pride in it see front and is living on the sea front and so forth you can't have storage tanks and refineries and pipelines and trucks and the spillage and all of the problems attendant to it and all of the smog and everything else it's attendant to the development of gasoline or side products from crude oil you just can't have. For those of you may have tuned in late to this program we should tell you what we're talking about that in general is the problem of water pollution in particular we're
talking about the now famous oil well blowout at Santa Barbara California. The danger of pipelines off the California shores is known to all of those living in Santa Barbara. Out on the second half of the program we pressed Dick Smith for a description of this problem. I really couldn't This is just I can paint you a picture of the bottom of the ocean in the first place the bottom of the ocean isn't a sand pile of absolutely smooth rock or smooth rock from the surface or anything else. It's not like the bottom of somebody's fish tank. It is instead a series of reefs and mountain tops and so on and so forth covered over with heavy amounts of rot or tremendously deep areas sun chasms. There are canyons and pipelines from let's say we have 500 offshore platforms out there each one of them with its little nest of pipes they're moving on top of the shore. Some of them would have to crisscross each other some of them would have to pile up in some places two or three thick. They crisscross each other. Some would go in one direction some would go in another.
Some would have to converge on the one place on shore in large amounts. DR DONALD Weaver of the University of Santa Barbara University of California at Santa Barbara has said that they Santa Barbara Channel is still in the mountain building activity stage. So consequently if you look back on the record as we did we found that there were more than 60 earthquakes or seismic disturbances let's call them on the ocean floor of the Santa Barbara Channel in just two months of the year prior to the putting up of the platforms and do the you know company platforms. Now if you're going to have that kind of disturbance in one area and the possibility of having a greater disturbance let's say that there would be a lift a mountain that would start to lift up. And if this did occur and you had four or five of a large mass of pipelines going across it where the pipelines break. You probably wouldn't recognize the earthquake here on land except by just a minor movement and it wouldn't be a very major movement. I have a tremendous subsidence is a problem that Dr. Norman Sanders
at UCSB has thought of. He says that a subsidence of land underneath a great landslide underneath the ocean somewhere maybe 400 feet deep or a thousand feet deep could cause a tremendous ocean wave. This is a road called a tsunami which could then rush up on the shores and would then engulf the area. And if it engulfed the area in Ventura County just below us where all of the onshore facilities are and all of the thousands of gallons of stored crude oil and all of the ships that are the third with the crew that are ready to move out then all of this would then spill and a lot of it would come back up here or wherever it would go it would be a problem. We're not really concerned with red happens we don't want to happen at all. As might be imagined drilling for offshore oil is a lot different than drilling for oil on shore. The risks involved are greater and the methods for drilling are more complicated. The question becomes you know offshore drilling does the potential danger of a blowout oil leakage always exist. We asked Dick Smith this question and here is his
reply. I think you have a potentially dangerous problem any time you try to tap and I'm the only reservoir you can determine that under the surface of the earth but in the ground you go down to 3000 feet 5000 feet or even 15000 feet. That's you know close to three miles under the earth with a chain of drilling. Pipes when you go down to the bottom and suddenly you find that you've got thousands and thousands and thousands of pounds of pressure at the bottom. Under those circumstances the possibility of hanging on to this is a little bit dangerous and you have forever the famous company of Red Adair has been made even more famous by a movie about putting out on routes in or around fires. This very famous Red Adair team came out here to see what could be done about this because this was the same as a blowout on land but it was 200 feet underneath the platform you know it was 200 feet of water over the top of it. Now true or
even they're concerned about the fact that if these things occur on land and they do it every so many of you put in the ground run of them is going to have a problem. And so if you do this on the ocean at 200 feet you can repair it. You can send a diver down 200 feet and have him do some repairing. What happens when you drill at fourteen hundred feet. Fifteen hundred feet or 2000 feet which is what they're doing they go out in the in a router and some of these leases have they have 2000 feet a router on top of the land they have leased they have leased nine square miles and covered with 2000 feet of router. Then what do you do you draw from a floating barge that's wriggling back and forth. You put a head on the ground. Suddenly a big wave comes along and bang you pull up to anchors and you break off a pipe and you don't have any valves in there yet. You were just in the point of construction. These are the things you can't avoid leaks. There are too many nebulous factors here and it may someday have this technology but only when we live on the bottom of the ocean will we have any technology that will equal what we have today
and go to any or well cite any oil field and you will see bulldozers sitting around ridges of earth that are containing sumps for an excess oil that they don't know where to put it have to do with and who put two thousand feet or rotted on top of an oil field and were bound to have trouble. There's another there's another fascinating factor to this and this is the very simple situation of the monetary environment when you do geological research on land you can hire somebody and have them go along and he's going to read to physically remove the surface structures and then extrapolate he can carry the surface structures down and you can find an appliance and as in so for he can see there's a play on land where these different geological structures go and have some understanding of where there would be posits of writing those arms microorganism seen as clams and various sayings. Because that's what it is. Beds of swamp lands and so forth that were submerged down underneath. Out in the ocean how do you find this out. You spend millions of dollars and cents
1947 dollars spent by a different oil companies channel searching sophisticated equipment and more sophisticated and the dollars that have been spent have finally given each individual company or shared with groups of companies the knowledge of what channel the federal government has the limited knowledge the federal government has never spent millions of dollars are. Increasingly one of the main concerns in our lives is the question of food supply and its relation to nature's lifecycle. With this in mind we asked Bob Solon about the ecological effects of the oil blowout has already had or will have on the environment. Well the thing that occurs to me and what Dick has been talking about and your response to it is. An evolution of thinking about our relationship with each other. Some of the world is just evolving from tribalism and we look down on these people and say they've
got a long way to go because we have established nationalism and those of us who have opposed militarism or chauvinism have said Well nationalism is in the way that is practiced in most countries it is it's actually a disease. We're not really developed we're not really human beings until we develop an international attitude. We talk about the family of man the community the world community. And so we call ourselves humanists and we think we've arrived and now it occurs to us that we we've got to be concerned in light in the way not only in our relationship. Man to man but man with his environment I think this is he just appears to me to be the ultimate step in this evolution toward a really intelligent attitude ecological attitude perhaps. I don't know when the hell we have to worry now about interplanetary relationships but I'm not concerned about that now. But until we understand this relationship not only man to man and man to everything
around him. We're not going to stabilize and develop our standards and security in the world. So that we can perpetuate their very survival. John and I both want to pursue this line of discussion for just a few more minutes what is the long term effect on the ocean the ocean life within and around the life within and around the ocean here off the coast of Santa Barbara. What about the potential destruction to the vital ocean life. Well this is what's sort of truly fascinating because you asked me a hard and fast question and I know you just run me to say give a hard and fast answer and this is one of the very tragic situations really allowed the development. When the open rafters of an open seat we did not consider the ecological effects we did not have a study on the ecological effects we have no knowledge of the long term ecological effects. We do know that
man today is studying where he's going to get oil from various places he's studying and searching for food supplies from various places and if the search for oil and the search for food are going to coincide and be compatible this is one thing. If they are going to be incompatible that's another thing I really strongly suspect from the numbers of dead birds that we have seen that this is not good for our food supply. We strongly suspect that it is not good for the larva that live on the ocean that carry First the developing bodies of larger animals on which we are going to survive them of various fish and lobsters and so on and so forth various kinds of mussels clams and things of this type. We do not know nor does any governmental body know nor does any scientific body know as yet whether or not there is any total ecological effect. I really do not want anything to happen until we find out. This is Santa Barbara stand. We would like to have all of those
studies pursued before anybody makes any decision about your environment and mine. I'm sure our audience would agree after listening to the past 30 minutes of our program that ecology is quickly becoming a major political issue on the American scene today. One cannot escape the fact that mountain is dependant on nature for survival and that the destruction of one link in the food chain effects every other link. If there is any conclusion that can be drawn from the program which you just heard perhaps it is not. Noun is suddenly being forced to realize that the earth on which she lives is not an inexhaustible resource. Northeastern University has brought you Al Wang Gand former member of the California state legislature Bob Solon and Dick Smith of the Santa Barbara News crisis
discussing oil in Santa Barbara. The pollution tragedy. The views and opinions expressed on the preceding program were not necessarily those of Northeastern University for the station. Questions asked were the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Your program host has been Joseph R. baiter Director Department of radio production. This week's program was produced by Carolyn Garth Crowe directed and technically supervised by Lenny good mileage executive producer for issue and inquiry is Carolyn guardrails. Issue an inquiry is produced for the division of instructional communications at the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University. Requests for a tape recorded copy of any program in this series may be addressed to issue and inquiry. Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts 0 2 1 1 5. Your announcer Dave Hammond.
Issue and inquiry
Episode Number
Oil in Santa Barbara
Producing Organization
Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-dz03337k).
Other Description
Issue and Inquiry is an analysis of public affairs issues such as environmentalism, public health, education, and politics. Produced for the Division of Instructional Communications at the nation's largest private university, Northeastern University.
Asset type
Social Issues
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 70-11-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Issue and inquiry; 10; Oil in Santa Barbara,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 17, 2022,
MLA: “Issue and inquiry; 10; Oil in Santa Barbara.” 1970-00-00. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 17, 2022. <>.
APA: Issue and inquiry; 10; Oil in Santa Barbara. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from