Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SICK (05/09/19)
- TITLE: Man-Made Malady
By Barbara Lynn Culler
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My heart was broken; my beloved beach had been violated. An offshore oil tanker, punctured by its own anchor, dumped thousands of gallons of crude oil into the water. Much of the spilled molasses-like oil washed up along a 25-mile stretch of the beautiful Pacific coastline. Restricted from entering the vandalized beach, I witnessed the clean-up efforts from a short distance away. It was a day I shall never forget, February 9, 1990, at Balboa Beach, California.
I watched as busloads of workers, garbed in plastic yellow-colored hazardous material gear, emerged and spread out like alien space beings invading the beach. The extra terrestrials transported numerous plastic bags filled with absorbent diaper-like material to the staging area. The fabric was used to mop up the defiling oil, yet it seemed that the ocean rescuers spent more time hauling equipment than cleaning the sullied sands. An escaped plastic bag ballooned out by the wind, leapt down the beach as if it were a tumbleweed. No one chased after it or seemed to care.
Looking up at the nearby pier, I observed others who were also curious, yet upset at the tragedy before us. They braved the slamming winds to photograph the heart-wrenching scene while tears, shaking of heads, expressions of sadness and anger abounded. How could this have happened?
As the two-foot waves disassembled at their feet, I watched as the workers used python-like tubes of absorbent material to lasso in the greasy debris. The gooey globs were swept into a pile, yet the efforts seemed in vain, for returning waves reclaimed the jellied masses faster than the workers could shovel into special bags. The oil-soaked bags were heaped onto special waste trucks destined for places unknown. The beach-saving heroes seemed weary from their labor, their work so tedious and discouraging. Oh God, please help them.
I viewed the action as one of the crew members accidentally splashed contaminated seawater in his eyes; he wasn't wearing the protective goggles. Emergency personnel arrived to treat him on scene, and transferred him to the hospital. Would he be blinded for life?
While swirling patterns of cesspool-colored slime skims the blue-green water, hovering seabirds called out mournful cries as they searched for their next meal. Did they know they were in danger? Would they get caught in a sticky grave or ingest the poison? Would fish and other sea creatures suffocate in the oil-laden water? What about the sea lions, the dolphins and the migrating whales? What would happen to the living creatures and plant life affected by this disaster?
Yes, my heart was broken and as tears fell, I raised my arms up and cried out: “Oh God, please save our ocean from this human-caused sea-sickness!”
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