Environment: Oil's Aftermath

One of the incidents most responsible for jolting Americans into an awareness of the environmental crisis took place on Jan. 28, 1969. A Union Oil Co. well, six miles out in California's Santa Barbara Channel, ruptured; it gushed unchecked for eleven days, polluting 400 sq. mi. of sea with crude oil, coating beaches and apparently killing much marine life. Petroleum companies spent perhaps $5,000,000 to clean up the mess; conservationists organized to mourn and restore the despoiled region. Stewart Udall, the former Interior Secretary who authorized the sale (for $603 million) of the...

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