Automobile is a threat to our oceans as well

I am writing to commend the students from Parkland Secondary School on their concerns about what the human race is doing to our oceans

I am writing to commend the students from Parkland Secondary School on their concerns about what the human race is doing to our oceans, which are now used extensively as a dump for every type of garbage imaginable. Some years ago Rachel Carson published her book Silent Spring depicting what we have done to our land. In 1967 Wesley Marx wrote The Frail Ocean, graphically describing what is being done to our oceans.

Both books should be read!

One of these young people made mention of oil rigs and ships, both of which have been the cause of major oil spills; BP in the Gulf, Exxon Valdes and Torrey Canyon. All of these caused millions of dollars of damage to the environment and rightly received huge publicity. But, according to studies by the EPA, Environment Canada and Washington State, these huge disasters do not constitute the greatest danger of oil contamination to our oceans. According to these studies, the major source of contamination comes from another human obsession, the automobile, dripping oil onto our roads where it is washed by rain into the storm drains and subsequently into the oceans. It is estimated that at least 50 per cent of oil contamination occurs from this course.

Applying the methodology of the Washington State Puget Sound study to a dozen of the major cities in Canada it has been determined that oil contamination from these cities is equivalent to 10 Torrey Canyon disasters every year.

Technology does exist to significantly reduce this level of contamination but the regulatory authorities seem reluctant to address this problem and municipal authorities will always seem to follow the lead of a past mayor of one of the municipalities in the CRD who expressed great interest in enacting changes to the building codes but regretted that there was no money to protect storm drains.

It is encouraging to find that young people are showing interest in this serious problem of destroying our oceans and the hope is that they will continue in later life to be pro-active in their concerns.

Fortunately there is change happening here on the lower Island and several of the municipalities are beginning to give more serious consideration to embracing the technology to prevent these oils from entering the storm drain systems.

Iain Muir

Brentwood Bay