The Environment: The Dead Channel

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In Washington, President Nixon ordered his science adviser, Dr. Lee A. DuBridge, to form a team of scientists and engineers in an investigation of the

Santa Barbara disaster. Nixon also told the panel "to produce far more stringent and effective regulations" so that "crises of this kind will not recur."

California's attorney general, meanwhile, was preparing two suits for over $100 million each against the Federal Government and Union Oil for damage to wildlife and the shore line. Private suits, such as the one filed in Santa Barbara Superior Court for over $1 billion, may well be joined with the state action.

More immediately troublesome to Union was the claim that it had seriously underreported the quantity spilled by the eleven-day gusher. Alan Allen, an engineer for General Research Corp. of Santa Barbara, meticulously plotted the spread and flow of the oil. Union had said that the crude escaped at the rate of 500 bbl. per day. By Allen's calculations, which he calls "ridiculously conservative," the ruptured well was spewing out at least 5,000 bbl.

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