One of my deepest not-at-all-guilty pleasures is irony. If I were a more supernaturally-inclined person, I would point to events like this as evidence that there must be a supreme being:
British Columbia’s largest oil spill response vessel got stuck on a sandbar en route to a federal news conference where Monday about strengthening Canada’s oil spill defences.
The shipping-industry-funded company in charge of the vessel confirmed it ran aground briefly on an uncharted sandbar off Sand Heads at the mouth of the Fraser River en route from its Esquimalt base to the Coal Harbour news conference. But it denied the ship had a “close quarters situation” with a B.C. ferry near Active Pass earlier Monday – as claimed by the Coast Guard’s marine communications union.
In a news release Wednesday, Canadian Auto Workers Local 2182 spokesman Allan Hughes said the vessel’s slow trip to the conference underscored how ill-prepared B.C. is for an oil spill.
It really does strain credulity to imagine that such a thing could happen by accident. If one were specifically trying to illustrate the real environmental dangers posed by shipping bitumen through environmentally sensitive areas, there could be no more perfect example than this. The only thing that could have possibly been ‘better’ is if the ship leaked some oil, but then you’re trading the deliciousness of the irony for the real possibility of ecological damage.
The poignancy of this accident is made all the better by the fact that there is a cross-border debate currently happening about the viability of shipping Tar Sands bitumen to the United States, and an international fight over whether we should send that same bitumen to China over the opposition of aboriginal groups, through whose territory proposed pipelines would have to run. The accident, while minor, vividly underscores the real (and, in my mind, unacceptable) risks of transporting bitumen from an area that is already an environmental disaster.
Of course, as always, such issues should be routed through the Undersecretary for Whimsy and Caprice:
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The Undersecretary for Whimsy and Caprice isn’t in but if you’d please fill in this lampshade ….? Oh, and the associated paperwork act reduction form.