Posts Tagged energy
Zalinski – Cleaning up Oil or Image
Last winter I found myself descending slowly down a black wall, my dive partner Tavish Campbell, somewhere off to my left is only recognized by the narrow beam of his dive light. The depth gauge registered 100 feet so I figured I must have missed the shipwreck. I kicked off into the water column and suddenly found myself face to face with a towering wall of steel; long lines of rivets disappeared into the dark.
I was staring at the shipwreck of the the 250 foot-long USAT Brigadier General M. G. Zalinski, a U.S. army transport ship that sank in the Grenville channel north of Hartley Bay in 1946.
Just on the other side of the steel hull it is reported that 12- 500 pound aerial bombs and countless smaller munitions lay undisturbed. Surprisingly, late on that wet and windy night so many years ago the ship rolled down the steep wall and landed on a very narrow ledge. By all accounts it should have kept rolling to the bottom, another 250 feet.
Fast forward to today, and the Zalinski is back in the news with the Canadian Coast Guard planning to remove the 600 or so tonnes of bunker oil (unclear if they plan on removing the bombs) that lay entombed inside.
The media is reporting that this will help bolster the government’s claim that the Canadian Coast Guard’s oil spill response capability is “world class” and can handily deal with ever-increasing LNG and bitumen tanker proposals facing the Great Bear Rainforest.
But I don’t follow.
First off, the Coast Guard had 70 years to figure out how to clean up the Zalinski wreck, yet suddenly they are spending a reported $50 million (and probably substantially more) during the winter storm season? The cleanup of the Zalinski is conveniently timed to coincide with the December decision by the National Energy Board on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline and tanker proposal.
The other issue that raises eyebrows is Canada’s choice of hiring the Dutch company Mammoet to do the cleanup. This seems to tell us more about Dutch capabilities than our own.
And what does the Zalinski have to do with modern Canadian oil spill clean up capabilities? The ship is sitting in one hundred feet of water in the relatively calm and protected waters of Grenville Channel. These are dream maritime conditions for an oil spill clean up by any standards on this coast. If the ship had kept rolling on that late night so many years ago, more than likely the Coast Guard would have continued to ignore the problem similar to its ongoing response to the Queen of the North wreck.
The Grenville Channel does get strong current but it cannot be compared to the treacherous waters that the 1500 foot long, 2 million barrel capacity VLCC tankers that are proposed to ply our coast, just a few miles to the south, would have to face each day.
The best thing that this $50 million dollar cleanup will achieve is something that should have been done years ago and at the expense of the U.S. government (it was their ship that sank after all) yet somehow Canadians are supposed to feel comforted by our Coast Guard’s ability to conduct serious oil spill response and cleanup? And that’s assuming they actually succeed in sucking the oil out of this wreck.
While the Canadian Coast Guard and their Dutch-for-hire spill recovery company fiddles around with the Zalinski, the real and more pressing issue of oil spill response capabilities continues to build with the onset of winter weather and the looming decision by the National Energy Board.
The waters just to the south of Grenville Channel have been listed by Environment Canada as the fourth most dangerous body of water in the world with recorded waves close to 100 feet in height. This is where a major shipping disaster would most likely take place. It is here that Canada will have to prove its ability to respond to an Exxon Valdez size –or much greater- oil spill disaster.
Not in the quiet waters of Grenville channel – 70 years late.
Kim Slater is almost at the halfway point of her 1170 km journey across BC that began at the BC Alberta border on July 8, 2012. Along the way, she has been connecting with individuals and communities about clean energy and alternatives to the Northern Gateway pipeline, with 2 notable gatherings in Williams Lake and Prince George.
Some of the ideas for a clean energy future that have emerged from these gatherings include: investing in renewables like solar, wind, geothermal, algae, tidal and micro-hydro; building community capacity for food and energy production; natural and green building, investing in bike and electric car infrastructure; and using energy more responsibly.” According to dialogue participants some of the barriers to making the transition to a clean energy future include a lack of political will, corporate power, an individualistic society and a lack of financial support from government and banking institutions.
“The dialogue participants have expressed a common interest in building resilient communities and finding creative ways of investing in local self-sustaining economies, food systems and renewable energy as well as reducing needless waste and over consumption;” observed Kim. “The sessions have been really optimistic.” Organizations such as Transition Town, which has a chapter in Williams Lake, offer many great examples for growing localism and self-sufficient communities; excellent alternatives to increasing our dependency on fossil fuels and growing the oil and gas industry that relies heavily on government subsidies, foreign ownership and fluctuating commodity prices.
Several more gatherings are planned, with details of the next two as follows: • Smithers: August 7, 7 pm (Old Church Venue) • Hazelton: August 9, 7 pm (Storytellers Venue)
On July 8, Kim Slater began her journey across the province to engage Northern communities in dialogue on renewable energy and alternatives to expanding the tar sands. She is sharing these informal conversations on the campaign website and blog, You Tube, Facebook and Twitter accounts.
There seem to be more and more of you everywhere I turn–people taking action to protect future generations and all that is sacred- our health & well being, communities & democracy, and our life-sustaining Earth. In a time of much uncertainty and in some ways darkness, this surge of positive intention and enlightened action is truly heartening. I am inspired and so grateful for your words, images and actions.
I’d like to share some news and also provide a quick update regarding Band Together BC and my run to further dialogue on renewable energy options and tar sands alternatives.
First the news…On Sunday I ran my first marathon and discovered that it’s possible to run 42.2 km and still walk afterwards (well, hobble). I finished in good time, a little soggy and blistery, but otherwise in good shape. Just 28 more to go…
Thanks to many generous donations, Band Together has reached $10, 514, which means just $4,486 is needed to reach the fundraising goal of $15,000. There’s just 6 days left to get there and every little bit helps, so if you haven’t made a donation and you’d like to, please head on over to the super convenient fundraising platform, Indiegogo.
The funds are needed to cover the bare essentials of my run (e.g. support vehicle, waste veggie conversion, food); my team and I are volunteering our time. AND the funds will be re-donated at the end of the campaign when the vehicle is sold. Spreading the word is just as important, so feel free to share the link in social media land.
Schedule and Gatherings
I leave July 8th and the schedule is still a work in progress. I am still seeking on the ground support in terms of arranging dialogue sessions. If you are interested in hosting one (which you can do even if I’m not running through your community) give me a shout and we’ll sort something out! Media coverage is also important to share the ideas that come out of these sessions with the world, so please let me know if you have connections in that way.
Great partnerships are developing.
On my journey, I will be sharing Tides Canada excellent report called: A New Energy Vision for Canada. Tides is seeking endorsement for a national energy strategy in their Statement of Support. Find out more here: http://tidescanada.org/energy/newenergy/
Thank you for your support!
Please continue to share your ideas and suggestions towards the creation of a national energy strategy that considers tar sands alternatives.