This past week a cargo ship hit the Bay Bridge. Fortunately it caused no damage to the bridge. Unfortunately it ripped its hull, causing an enormous amount of oil to spill into the Bay.
Worse, reports indicate that the amount of spilt oil was initially underestimated, thereby delaying the necessary response to contain it. Authorities initially said only 140 gallons had been lost, when it actually turned out to have been 58,000.
That oil has now spread throughout the north bay, washing up on all its shores. Volunteers and a few other dedicated agencies are working frantically to rescue oil-slicked birds, clean up the beaches, and keep the oil from further spreading into fragile marine ecosystems.
I find myself livid. As someone who paddles in the bay, who swims in the bay, who lives in the bay I am personally offended that this disaster has been allowed to happen. The birds and fish, seals and sea lions, they're all my neighbors. We wouldn't throw oil on our human neighbors, right? So why are we so indifferent about throwing oil on our aquatic ones?
Accidents do happen, and I doubt anyone deliberately intended to crash the ship into the Bay Bridge. But I do wonder, however, if there's not been a certain indifference to the potential effects of such an accident, which has resulted in those effects not being sufficiently minimized by the powers who could do so. It's sort of the notion that because open waters are rather large, anything bad that happens to fall into them will be diluted by their vastness before it can have an effect. A little bit of sewage, a few gallons of oil, maybe even some litter. Why worry? Who will know? Why rush to contain it? It will all soon be washed away.
When, actually, when things like this are allowed to happen as this one has it's really our world being washed away.
Edit 11/13: Like most posts I write in a fit of pique this one is a little unclear as to the target of my anger. But that's kind of the problem - I wasn't sure. (I'm not sure anyone was.)
The thing is, accidents do happen, and I'm not trying to encourage an over-reaction to what is essentially an extremely rare event (a ship crashing into the bridge). Rather, it's the reaction to the accident itself that has raised the concerns. It seemed so amiss. Lackadaisical, even. Everything from the failure to recognize that the oil release could be a problem to the failure to communicate that there was. There was a complete failure to recognize that the consequences could be so dire and respond to it accordingly by those in the position to do so. So as the extent of this tragedy (for I think that's really the word for it, even though no human beings directly perished) becomes apparent recriminations seem warranted.
But this is all I have to say on the subject at the moment. I'll leave it to others to follow it more closely. However for those who are wondering the oil does not seem to have made its way up to my houseboat marina, but I fear that doesn't mean it hasn't necessarily affected my local ecology.