Marine toxologist shares oil spill expertise with Gulf Coast residents

June 27, 2010

Dr. Riki Ott shares her experiences from the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Lori Ceier/Walton Outdoors

Dr. Riki Ott urges communities to prepare and become proactive

On June 26th, the South Walton Community Council sponsored a public forum on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill with guest speaker Dr. Riki Ott. Ott is a community activist and a marine toxologist with a specialty in oil pollution.

Ott experienced first hand the devastating effects on the environment and community from the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. At the time, Ott was a commercial fisherwoman in Cordova, Alaska.

The environmental, financial and emotional toll hit hard within the small communities nestled along Prince William Sound. Twenty years later, much has not recovered.

Ott has documented the toll in two books: ‘Sound Truth & Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill’ that exposes oil as a human and environmental health hazard. The book is based on stories of key witnesses and participants in the environmental tragedy; and ‘Not One Drop’ – a 20-year trail of pollution and deception that led to the tragic 1989 spill. The book delves deep into the disruption to the fishing community over the next 10 years.

Ott’s facts are alarming as she shares the data from the Exxon Valdez failures and sees it being repeated in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ott urges citizens to get involved. “We cannot rely on the government or BP to restore our beaches and waterways. Politics intervenes over common sense” Ott said.

Ott explained that crude is toxic to both human and animal life. The tar balls are fairly easy to clean up, however the mousse-like substance and the oil that appears like clouds in the water are full of dispersants.

Ott explained the use of dispersants takes longer for the environment to recover than if left alone. The chemicals used in dispersants are a serious health hazard causing DNA damage, respiratory distress and fetal trauma just to name a few.

“Children do not have fully developed enzymes in their system,” Ott said as she explained that healthy adults have defensive enzymes in their systems to combat chemicals in the air.

She suggests acquiring organic respirators for dealing with bad air days.

Ott urges the public to petition the Environmental Protection Agency to de-list the use of products of concern immediately.


“One Gulf, one voice, one future,” Ott proclaimed as she urges everyone to become proactive.

Ott described the ecological damage eminent in the Gulf. As we slowly lose one species of sea life, the threads of the balance are disrupted with devastating long term destruction.

Ott’s book ‘Sound Truth & Corporate Myth$: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill’ will be available for a nominal shipping charge through the South Walton Community Council in the next few days.

To learn more about Riki Ott, go to

    1. I thought from the beginning that this was all being kept a secret from the people here on the gulf coast. I figured that the dispersants were also toxic. why are our waters still open to swimming? I understand that we are trying to save our livlihood, but what about our children? I read on the internet that the ocean would take care of itself, in time. why are we allowing these awful dispersants in our waters? Money is the answer. Money, dirty oily money. I’m just sick about it all.

    1. Riki said to write down and share information about effects or possible effects from the spill. I’ve had a nasty “cold” or “sinus infection” and a maddening cough since about last Sunday, June 20.

Comments are closed.