Viewing scenes from the recent Gulf Oil Spill breaks my heart. I love the ocean and it hurts to see its beauty marred. The pictures brought back memories of an oil spill here in California. The year was 1991 at Huntington Beach. I lived in Whittier at the time so went down to the beach to observe what was really happening.
What I saw was gut-wrenching and I sent the following account to the Whittier Daily News-Letter to the Editor department. It was published as written:
The brisk wind chills the flesh to the bone; and not even the bright midmorning sun can warm the soul. The stench is like that of a tar pit, intermingled with the salty taste from the mist of the wind-whipped waves. The normally cream colored two foot breakers shovel brown froth to the shore and deposit piles of ugly blobs that resemble coffee-colored whipped jell-o or the foam atop a root beer float.
Several persons garbed in plastic yellow hazardous material gear materialize as alien space beings invading the beach. Busloads of these strange looking workers spill out upon the drifting sand and spend more time hauling equipment to the worksite than actually cleaning the polluted shore.
The troops bring in scores of plastic bags packed with absorbent diaper-like fabric to mop up the marred coastline. Python-size tubes of absorbing material are being used like tow line to rake in the greasy debris as the waves disassemble at their feet.
Sweeping the gooey globs to the shore seems futile as the returning waves remove the compiled jellied masses faster than the workers can scoop it into the special plastic bags. It seems so tedious and so discouraging. Mounds of oil-soaked sand filled bags are heaped onto special waste trucks. Where will they end up? An escaped empty plastic bag ballooned out by the winds leaps down the beach as if it were tumbleweed.
A worker accidently splashed the contaminated seawater in his eyes; he wasn’t wearing the special goggles. The fire department and ambulance arrive. Will he be ok? Will he be blinded for life?
Curious tourists brave the slamming wind to observe the tragedy. Tears, shaking of heads, expressions of sadness and anger abound. Some photograph the heartbreaking spectacle from atop the pier.
While swirling patterns of liver-colored slime skim the sea of green, unknowing sea birds hover about for tasty morsels. Will they get caught in a sticky grave? Will the fish suffocate in the oil-laden water? What about the migrating whales? God- Please save our ocean!
- ► 2011 (38)