Friday, December 02, 2011

Not In My Back Yard!

The usual meaning of "Not in my back yard" seems to be "Put that inconvenient urban necessity out of sight from MY house" for many people who campaign against sewage treatment systems and jails. Now, as for me, I'm usually more of a YIMBY than a NIMBY. I want my sewage treated responsibly and I figure that as far as jails go, though we don't need as many new prisons as the current federal government is trying to push on us, what jails we do have should be clean, supervised and close enough to urban centres for... but I'm digressing.
I had a NIMBY moment today, on the water. Stephanie took this photo a couple of winters ago, showing Karl paddling on Panama Flats when Colquitz Creek was flooded.
This morning dawned so calm that after walking the dogs I got into my wetsuit. The sun was just rising as I took the little green rec kayak down to the beach. Lovely! The mist was rising off the water and blowing off-shore, the sky was so clear that I could have seen the volcano cone of Rainier if there hadn't been clouds piled up along the Olympics and in the direction of Puget Sound. The weather will probably change later this morning.
Today I took time for only a short paddle to the little rock garden and into Sheep Cove. I had to get back quickly to write this post before going to class. The kingfisher scolded me again, and perched to be admired. Other than him, the rest of the birds pretty much ignored me dabbling along. At the head of little Sheep Cove, I looked up into the bare trees along the tiny creek that pounds down the rocks in the rainy season. There it was -- the little red bridge that I love to see in winter! The tiny creek runs under it, and under another footbridge nearer the shore, and falls into a scoop of shoreline mostly circled by a low cement wall. It was a perfect moment to watch the tide swell up just a little, washing a gentle wave into the scooped pond, and then watch the water drain out. This is the only place I've found with a reversing current like that.
I paddled back over winter-clear water, enjoying the sight of the bottom fifteen and twenty feet down as the sun rose higher. The bubbles from my little kayak's wake were still there on the calm water, twenty minutes and more after I'd passed on my way out from the beach.
I passed a floating plastic bag that might have blown off a boat, and a sunken tin pie pan that was probably frisbee-ed from shore. Seeing human trash reminded me of why I had to get to my computer and write this post. There has been another fuel spill locally.
You can read about it in the Saanich News in their article appropriately titled "Oil spill stains urban miracle." It's on the front page, with a sub-heading "Catastrophe strikes Coho-laden creek."
This spill was not from a fuel truck crash. It was from a home heating oil tank that leaked a few days ago.A pipe leading from a homeowner's fuel tank sprung a leak, and over a few days released an estimated 1,000 litres of heating oil into Swan Creek, which drains into Colquitz Creek. John took this photo of Colquitz Creek. That's the salmon stream that we've written about here on the blog, the one Karl and Stephanie have paddled down from Panama Flats.
Swan Creek doesn't run through my own back yard. But it does run past my aunt's condo. I've walked in a little park along this creek that also runs past the townhouses where our friends Leslie and Darren used to live. That fuel tank wasn't mine or in my own neighbourhood, but I must have walked within a hundred yards of it several times before eating and relaxing at a nearby home.
That's it, for me. Not in my back yard. Not in my friends' and families' back yards. Accidents happen, but fuel tanks are owned by people who can look after them. There's no excuse for letting a newly-filled tank drain over several days.
No excuses. I walked back from the beach this morning, put the kayak away and looked at my landlady's fuel tank. No oily stains, no petroleum-product smell, no leaks visible from the tank or lines into the house. No fuel slick on the puddles around the Beach House. Not in my yard.
I'm putting out a call to readers of Kayak Yak. If your home is heated with fuel of any kind, go check that the fuel tank and pipes aren't leaking. I mean it. Go to the tank in your yard or the gas pipe that enters your apartment building. And while you're at it, check if the driveway near your home has any oily stains spreading into a storm drain. I'm just sayin'.
And then write a comment in reply to this post, telling me you checked that your heating fuel is not leaking. John's got some features on the right-hand column of this blog, showing our regular readers. You know who you are. We know that we can't stop all the fuel spills in the world, but we can each look after our own yards.And if you see any fuel spilled on the ground or water in BC, in town or out in the boonies, call the 24-Hour Spill Line toll-free at 1-800-663-3456.

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