WHEREAS, On January 19, 1996, a fire aboard the tug Scandia set the vessel along with its 340-foot unmanned barge, the North Cape, adrift off the coast of Rhode Island loaded with 4 million gallons of No. 2 home heating oil. A fierce storm drove both vessels ashore at pristine Moonstone Beach, precipitating one of the greatest environmental disasters in the history of the Ocean State; and
WHEREAS, The outcome of this ill-advised voyage was the fact that 828,000 gallons of oil spilled into the ocean. Despite the heroic and tireless efforts of the Coast Guard, much less than 10 percent of the oil that spilled into the ocean was recovered. While some of this oil eventually evaporated, most dispersed in the waters off South County beaches or in delicate salt ponds, killing thousands of birds, fish and shellfish. In various stages of toxic breakdown, the monumental long-term consequences of this catastrophe to the environment and the state's economy cannot be accurately estimated at this time; and
WHEREAS, United States Representative Jack Reed has called for a congressional investigation of the North Cape spill stating that "the people of my district are extremely concerned that safety precautions such as vessel inspections could have prevented this tragedy." In light of the fact that so little can really be done to contain such a major spill, it is only prudent that any and all precautions be made to ascertain the sea-worthiness of these vessels before they are allowed to undertake any such enterprise. Shippers, likewise, should not be allowed to transport hazardous materials in sensitive environmental areas during times when violent weather presents increased opportunities for an ecological disaster; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That this House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby memorializes Congress to investigate the tragic North Cape oil spill and to enact legislation to prevent the shipping of hazardous substances in sensitive environmental areas during times when severe weather increases the risk for another North Cape calamity; and be it further
RESOLVED, That the Secretary of State be and he hereby is authorized and directed to transmit duly certified copies of this resolution to all of the members of the Rhode Island delegation to the United States Congress.