Kyle Koch/The Daily Evergreen
Environmental advocacy groups at WSU hosted a mock oil spill on the steps of Todd Hall Monday afternoon to draw attention to the consequences of offshore drilling accidents.
The event organizers aimed to exemplify the environmental effects of oil spills and to showcase alternative energy sources to oil, said Kaitlyn White, a senior environmental science major.
Members of WSU’s Environmental Task Force and the Environmental Science Club dressed in hazmat suits and pretended to clean crude oil from stuffed animals on a mock oil-affected beach to show the difficulty of cleaning up a spill.
“We want people to consider not just the economic effects, but the long term environmental effects,” White said.
Those unfamiliar with oil spills often don’t understand how difficult oil is to clean up, White said.
The Environmental Science Club has teamed up with non-profit ocean conservation group Oceana to encourage students to sign petitions to stand against oil companies that aim to drill off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and help promote wind power instead. Oil spills happen every year in the Pacific Ocean, White said.
The club hosted speakers Bob Grandchamp and Pierre Wensel, a WSU researcher, who spoke about potential alternative energy sources. Grandchamp, an Americorps volunteer, spoke about his time volunteering for clean-up efforts after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
One of Grandchamp’s assignments at the time was to interview locals about the impacts they felt from the oil spill. Many of them struggled to put food on the table after the incident, he said.
Grandchamp also helped clean crude oil off of brown pelicans in the area. The volunteers saved many pelicans, but still thousands died, he said.
A member of the Palouse Clearwater Environmental Institute, Grandchamp also emphasized connecting the community with the catastrophe and informing people about the seriousness of oil spills.
“Once people are educated, they’ll make better decisions,” he said.