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Soap and Oil


I will briefly stand on my soap box and then politely step down. Acute myelogenous leukemia, a deadly form of blood cancer, can be caused by exposure to benzene, a carcinogen found in oil. The only cure for this disease is a bone marrow transplant. That is, if you are lucky enough to find a matching donor. I was one of the lucky ones.

I lived in Summerland from ‘85-‘93 and swam in the ocean almost daily. As many of you know, Summerland was where the first offshore oil wells were drilled. When many stopped producing, they were capped off by putting big rocks over the pipes! I can remember being in the ocean when an oily sheen was all around me. And, ignorantly, I can remember being at the beach with my young nieces and nephews, laughing and running from the “root beer float” foam, as we called it, washing ashore. It was brown oil slick “gunk.”

Oil like this will be reaching Santa Barbara soon. You may not see the actual oil, but it will be there for years to come. Swimming at Haskell’s Beach, Campus Point, Goleta Beach, Mesa Lane, Hendry’s, Leadbetter, East Beach, Butterfly — all will be affected. And so will you, your kids, your grandkids, your family and friends, your dogs, and all the wildlife along the coast.

I believe that swimming in the ocean laced with oil triggered some of my genes to turn leukemic, for some unfortunate, random reason. Sadly, I will not be the last that this happens to. The coverage, or lack there of, and the cleanup, which is mediocre at best, is a tragedy for all of us who love our local beaches.

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