World watches and waits for environmental disaster...
It's strange. Less than 24 hours ago I submitted an article about how oil companies want to drill in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. I briefly remarked that this is something we cannot permit to happen, because no matter how careful the oil companies are the risk of a spill and ecological disaster occuring is far too high. Now I find an article from the BBC News about the world's largest oil rig providing a frightening example of what I was writing about yesterday: disaster can, and will, happen at any time.
The oil rig, a 40-story, $350 million dollar structure which is located off the coast of Brazil, suffered a series of crippling explosions Thursday which killed ten of the workers on board. The explosions damaged one of its support columns, causing it to sink 13 feet into the sea and list dangerously to one side at 30 degrees (engineers have since corrected the list to 24 degrees). I also found an article written today (Sunday) stating that the rig has been stabilized. "Stabilized" is a rather vague term when you consider this rig has 1.5 million litres of oil on board, and if it should suffer any further damage we're likely to have yet another crude-oil based ecological disaster on our hands. Officials from the oil company which owns the offshore drilling platform state that there have been no detectable leaks from the rig as of this time. What is truly worrisome is that if you research this company, you'll see that its reputation has been tarnished by two immense oil spills in the past two years alone, and several other accidents which have killed a large number of workers. According to the BBC article, January 2000 saw one of the company's tankers spilling one million litres (264 thousand gallons) of oil, which polluted Rio de Janeiro's Guanabara Bay. Not long after that in July 2000, 4 million litres (1.05 million gallons) of crude oil spilled from a broken pipeline into the Iguacu river in southern Brazil. Yes, the company has ships standing by to contain a spill in case one should occur, but it's hard to rest assured they'll be able to contain it in time. It is also important to recall that any marine animals in the area will almost certainly be harmed should a leak occur, no matter how quickly the engineers respond.
With occurences this common it is clear that we can't risk a reserve like the AWR to an industry this prone to detrimental accidents. Yes, our country has an insatiable appetite for crude and the various products it produces such as diesel, gasoline, heating oil and plastics. It's important that we work to procure reserves, but not at the potential cost of thousands of acres of land and countless plants and animals. Our current shipping and piping lanes endanger our environment enough as it is. Please, take the time to speak out to your governmental representatives to let them know that this cannot be allowed to occur. There's more than enough evidence around us to show that we're NOT in the wrong for wanting to protect our wilderness - it clearly needs to be, with the trackrecord left over the last few years.