Contributing Monkie G Living Staff Monkies
Published on December 17, 2007
Falling far too quickly on the heels of the recent San Francisco Bay catastrophe, an oil spill in the Yellow Sea is the worst in South Korea’s history and threatens to be the worst environmental disaster since the war that split the country in two.
On December 7th and 8th, the Hong-Kong registered supertanker Hebei Spirit sat spewing crude oil into the sea – within view of onlookers at Mallipo Beach, a popular tourist attraction, now the focus of a cleanup operation. As the dark seas spread the spill and swept the oil ashore, the usual call to action sounded. Nearly 10,000 residents and other relief agency personnel took to the beach in their blue suits shoveling black sludge, mopping up oil with giant paper towels, and piling up dead birds.
The scene in South Korea has become all too common in modern society. Although this spill will not reach the Exxon Valdez spill in either size or environmental impact, it will influence thousands of human lives in terms of livelihoods lost. This part of the Yellow Sea is home to significant population and industry, including aquaculture and tourism and should serve as a reminder of how close all seaside communities are from an ecological disaster like this one.
A small price to pay for easy energy? Looking at the western coast of South Korea, I was struck by the thousands of miles of coastline, most of which will not be impacted by the 2.7 million gallon spill (click here for a map of the affected area). But it all seems a bit like cancer – you don’t believe it could happen to you until it does.
And, like cancer, the world should be rallying passionately for a cure.
Quick Fact: 1 barrel of oil (42 U.S. gallons) equals about 320 pounds.
Check out the worst oil spills in world history.