COOS BAY, Ore. — 25 years ago this week, a massive oil spill changed the landscape on Coos Bay. A 640-foot cargo ship named ‘New Carissa’ was on its way to Southern Oregon from Japan in the midst of a dangerous storm. The ship had no passengers on it as it was expected to pick up timber from Coos Bay.
Nature took its course and the ship took a turn for the worse along the coast, causing a massive spill. Cleanup took weeks and the legal battle over who was responsible took even longer.
The remains of the ship stayed in the sand on the coast for more than three years, which is something that executive director of the Oregon Historical Society Kerry Tymchuk remembers all too well. “Most famous shipwreck of modern times, and a story that dominated the news not just in Southern Oregon, but across the state for months and then the story stretched out even years.”
Although it’s tough to find a bright spot through it all, the collaborative effort from all of Oregon showed something.
“It again highlighted Oregon’s status as a green environmental state, that is always concerned with the environment, concerned with our beaches. You know, we love our beaches here in Oregon. And this was the first time in you know, in many years that a beach had been despoiled by a shipwreck, by an oil spill,” Tymchuk added.
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