Riki Ott Presents: Pretty Slick
Monday, March 31, 7:00-9:00 pm
Vancouver Public Library, Alma Vandusen/Peter Kaye Rooms, 350 West Georgia Street.
Riki's presentation of the feature documentary, Pretty Slick, will focus on the use of chemical 'dispersants' to break up an oil spill--and the environmental and human health toll these chemicals are taking. Riki appears in Vancouver at the end of an Alaska tour commemorating the Exxon Valdez disaster, 25 years ago.
A commercial salmon "fisherma'am", Dr. Riki Ott (PhD in marine toxicology) experienced firsthand the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill—and chose to do something about it. She retired from fishing and founded three nonprofit organizations to deal with lingering harm. Pretty Slick documents harm to human health and sea life in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon well blow-out in 2010. Dispersants were aerial sprayed on the oil slick--and on nearby residents, spill response workers and thousands of seabirds and mammals. Dispersants are intended to break up a slick into tiny droplets, in circumstances where a "net environmental benefit" can be achieved. This documentary questions the environmental benefit and leaves one to contemplate whether 'quick economic benefit' or 'net environmental benefit' is actually the driving force behind their use.
Under pressure to restore public confidence in tourism, seafood and the oil company's ability to operate without environmental damage, governments and polluters alike want to be seen to be "cleaning up." Using dispersants is good for public relations but not for the environment--or it seems, for the people who get near the operations.
Dispersants may be responsible for serious human health problems that were reported by spill response workers and exposed members of the public after both the Exxon Valdez and BP spill response. Several lawsuits are now underway as people seek compensation from BP for illnesses ranging from serious skin rashes to serious central nervous system impairment as a result of contact with the oil/chemical mix.
Riki will also give a short talk on the persistence and toxicity of Exxon Valdez oil. The herring fishery collapsed in Prince William Sound following the Exxon Valdez disaster where dispersants were used. Studies found that salmon and herring were particularly vulnerable to the cleanup chemicals.