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Saturday, October 20, 2018

POINTS OF VIEW - Out of the mouths of babes

The on-line debate being run right now by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) uses as its subject an imaginary oil spill from a grounded tanker off the wildlife-rich Galapagos Islands (see Weekly News in Detail).

INTERTANKO is acting as the tanker captain; other roles include the oil company, tourism, the local community, and a wildlife expert. Participants can ask questions of any of these experts as they talk their way through the situation with mediators and guidance.

The first wave of questions have proved remarkably sharp and to the point, considering that the participants are laymen inexperienced in the tanker business. Their relevance and aptness is even more remarkable when you consider that the participants are primary school children aged 9-11 years with only the shortest of background briefings.

The following are extracts from what we have been answering this week – the words are their words, unedited. All we have done is to group the questions together by subject.

Is oil biodegradable?

Would it be too expensive to run oil pipes under the sea so we do not have to use tankers? And if we did run oil pipes, they may rust and leak, and terrorists could still blow them up. However, it would seem impossible to fetch all the oil resources of the world without having a bit of spillage - how many die on motorways every day?

Could terrorists deliberately make a hole in an oil tanker in order to damage the country where the oil is washed up? If they could, what can we do to stop them?

Would double hulled tankers be strong enough to stop a leak? Why don't oil companies use plastic or wooden barrels so if the oil tanker sinks the oil doesn't spill. Can anyone see something wrong with this?

What happens when we run out of oil anyway? Can cars and boats run well on other things?

Is oil transported for no good reason? I mean if oil in one country is cheaper than oil in another, do the oil companies then fill up tankers in that country and take it to another country where they can get more money? This would be wrong if the second country already had its own oil in its own ground. It would mean we would be risking an oil spillage just so the oil people could make more money!

Please can you tell us if there are any rules that control shipping routes for oil tankers?

Will you tell me please is it dangerous for the crew? Have you ever been on a leaking ship or a sinking ship? How do you know that your ship is in good condition? We think we should have somebody to check the oil tanker so the ship will be safe and it will not spill oil in the sea then it will not kill animals in and around the sea. They should check there are no cracks in the ship.

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings - perhaps INTERTANKO should bounce more of the issues of the day off primary school children!