Who Should Be Held Accountable?

An excerpt from an opinion piece I wrote, published in The Korea Times:

ON MARCH 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez supertanker struck a reef in Alaska’s Prince William Sound, gashing its hull and sending more than 41,000 kiloliters of oil rushing into the ocean.

At its peak, the slick spread almost 5,000 square kilometers and cast a black, oily pall over vast stretches of once-pristine coastline. It was an environmental disaster of monumental proportions.

In the following months, the United States scrambled to clean up the Alaskan coast while penning a comprehensive policy that would address oil spill prevention and proper procedure in future catastrophes.

The result was the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. The OPA not only expanded the federal government’s ability to provide necessary resources and funding to deal with spills ― up to one billion dollars per incident ― it also established the owner of the vessel from which the oil is discharged as the responsible party.

Now, as Korea attempts to clean up the shores of Taean after the worst oil spill in its history, its citizens are asking: What will the central government do to prevent this from happening again? Who will be held accountable for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people who face a loss of their livelihood?

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