Volume 93, Issue 29

Thursday, October 21, 1999


Editorial Board 1999-2000

Enviro hazard egnored by all

Editorial cartoon

Enviro hazard egnored by all

Much has been made of the now notorious "blob" found in London's Thames River. This gigantic mass of coal tar is reportedly in excess of 1,700 square metres and has likely been nesting at the bottom of the Thames for decades.

Coal tar is a by-product of the gasification process which converts coal into gas – experts believe this accumulation of coal tar is the work of a London-based gasification plant which closed in 1939.

This means the blob has conceivably been residing in the Thames for approximately 60 years. Officials aren't sure of the extent of the blob's capacity to harm the surrounding environment, but seem fairly sure it has caused significant damage to the surrounding ecosystem.

Given those facts, it's more than slightly galling to note although this gigantic lump of coal tar was first discovered over six weeks ago, absolutely nothing has been done about it.

In a stunning display of lethargy, the general area surrounding the blob, has been cordoned off, presumably to mask the fact nobody really knows how to tackle the problem with any effectiveness.

If anything, this unique problem has given our leaders another wonderful excuse to practice the art of public evasion. The Minister of the Environment has tactfully pulled out every trick from the Book of Rhetoric in order to try and make it look like someone up there really does know what they're doing. By now, it's obvious they don't have a clue.

Granted, getting rid of such a huge clump of coal tar isn't necessarily an everyday task. It would be unfair to blame the government for not having some kind of Coal Tar Removal Task Force waiting on hand to remedy the problem.

On the other hand, since rapid industrialization is a reality in today's society, it's not completely unfair to blame the government for falling behind on this. Unfortunately, nobody even seems willing to do this. It's as if somehow the emergence of this blob has interfered with our ability to care. Perhaps we have to wait until the three-eyed fish emerge before we deem this problem as one worth worrying about.

It's bad enough that we're raping the environment for the sake of personal convenience, but it's even worse that we're content to sit idly by and watch the negative after-effects continue to destroy our surroundings.

This level of complacency and the lack of an active initiative to resolve the problem are only indicative of a more worrying trend. If our level of global awareness and concern is not increasing nearly as rapidly as our carbon monoxide and pollution levels are, is it not safe to assume that we are slowly sabotaging our own personal safety?

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Copyright The Gazette 1999