Northwest NEWS

March 1, 1999

Editorial

Avoiding risk is good earthquake preparedness

   I live close to a natural gas pipeline and am well aware of the risks and benefits of such a facility. I am concerned that the controversial Cross-Cascades Pipeline will add to overwhelming helplessness in the event of a major earthquake.

   Unlike Y2K and the millennium hysteria, an earthquake measuring 9.5 on the Richter Scale is taken very seriously by the Red Cross, emergency response teams, and local risk managers for the impending future.

   Originating from the shifting of continental plates along our coastline, earthquakes happen every few hundred years. They also produce tsunamis, huge 30-foot waves, that wash over coastal lowlands. The last one happened 300 years ago.

   Needless to say, an event of this magnitude nowadays would cause major disruption throughout the region. Besides humans caught in walls of water and crumbling buildings, the unleashing of toxins, flammables, and combustibles from broken pipelines into the remaining environment adds further horror to the scenario.

   In an earthquake, floodplains become vibrating mud-sauce. Pipelines rupturing in our river valleys, dumping fuel into fresh water streams, or blowing up into uncontrollable fires pose unacceptable risks, especially since the resources for gas/oil fire emergencies are located at the airports and military installations along the coast, right in the path of the tsunami.

   Earthquakes and gas explosions in my neighborhood worry me enough. Avoiding more risk is better earthquake preparedness than building yet another pipeline that could contaminate my aquifer as well as add fuel to the neighborhood fires.

Lori Carter, Snohomish