Imagine our shores covered in thick, sticky black oil.
Imagine our shorebirds coated in the stuff, unable to fly away, dying from the exposure.
Imagine our fish floating belly-up, inedible, in the stinking mess.
No more swimming in the ocean. No more walking barefoot along the sand.
Just oil, tar balls, and residues from the chemicals poured onto the oil in hopes of dissipating it.
Last week MP Joyce Murray came to Cowichan Bay as part of her crusade to stop oil tanker traffic along our B.C. coastline.
Experts have long said that a major oil spill disaster is a question of when, not if, should we continue to allow ships filled with the stuff to ply the tricky waters off our coast, particularly near Haida Gwaii to the north.
But a proposed pipeline from the oil sands in Alberta to the shores of B.C. is making it all too likely that we’re going to see an increase in the amount of tanker traffic, not the ban that a large number of British Columbians support, according to opinion polls.
It’s a case of very little bang for our buck, along with a whopping helping of risk.
Sure, a pipeline would create a few jobs. But, as opponents argue, not nearly the number that a potential disaster threatens to destroy in areas like tourism and fisheries.
But why should we care so much down here in the Cowichan Valley?
Surely the nightmare scenario painted at the beginning of this editorial is unlikely, even in the event of an Exxon Valdez-like catastrophe?
After all, there’s a lot of kilometres between here and there, right?
If we’ve learned just one thing from the Gulf of Mexico oil rig fiasco of last year, it should be this: oil can travel fast and it can travel far and wide. It can quickly contaminate huge swaths of coastline and ocean.
And there’s not much we can do about it.
The fact of the matter is that we are woefully unprepared to deal with any type of large-scale oil “accident.”
We saw this, too, demonstrated only too well by the Gulf of Mexico ongoing leak.
Yes, the situations are a bit different. That was a well they couldn’t shut off that kept pumping out oil for months after the initial disaster.
But it’s still uncomfortably close to what could happen to a punctured hull of an oil tanker, leaking its load into our waters.
Further, it was clearly demonstrated that officials were unprepared and unable to contain the spread of the slick.
We may not hear about the affected areas that much anymore in the news, but things haven’t gone back to normal.
Some of the damage is irreparable — at least within our lifetime and probably for generations. It’s just not worth the risk.
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original posting: http://tiny.cc/m0lx4