It’s 42 years to the day – and almost to the minute as this publishes at 1730 CAT – since the oil tanker SS Wafra grounded on a reef off Cape Agulhas after her engine floundered due to a leak in her cooling system.
Almost half of her 472,513 barrel cargo escaped, with some 26,000 tons of oil leaked at the grounding site, of which 6,000 tonnes washed up at Cape Agulhas. A 20-mile (32 km) by 3-mile (4.8 km) oil spill resulted that affected a colony of 1200 African Penguins on Dyer Island near Gansbaai.
The vessel is on fire in this photo because the SA Air Force bombed it in an effort to scuttle it and er… failed:
The ship was refloated and pulled off the reef on 8 March by the German tug Oceanic, but started to break apart. To prevent further oil contamination of the coastline, the larger section was towed 200 miles (320 km) out to sea to the edge of the continental shelf (36°57’S 20°42’E), leaving a 160-kilometre (99 mi) oil slick in her wake. On 10 March 1971 Buccaneer aircraft of the South African Air Force attempted to sink her with AS-30 missiles, but succeeded only in starting a fire. The ship flounded ablaze for two days before a Shackleton aircraft was eventually able to sink it with depth charges in 1,830 metres (6,000 ft) of water.
Fox hunting, hare coursing, seal culling and bull fighting. A range of trendily unpopular pastimes which I actually don’t have a huge problem with. And before you stop reading in simulated and dramatic disgust, if you eat meat, if you wear leather – in fact, unless you’re a total and absolute vegan – then you’re being hypocritical in wanting any bloodsport banned. Animals live, animals die. I’m not saying that watching a greyhound taking down a hare is particularly pleasant to see. It certainly doesn’t ring my bell. But if you find that equally unappealing, then you shouldn’t enjoy your bacon sandwich just because the chop chop squeal squeal goes on behind closed doors.
And just occasionally, nature gets one back – it might just be the bovine equivalent of a 90th minute goal when you’re already 5-0 down – but it’s still one back.
That same hypocrisy is running through the ranks of the greenies who are aghast at the extent of the damage caused by the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Again, an environmental disaster is not something I want to see – who does? – but unless those whining greenies are 100% self-sufficient, then they rely in some way on oil. So while their complaints that BP should (could?) have done more to prevent this from happening may be justified to some extent, their insistence that we should boycott BP because of the Deepwater Horizon incident is frankly laughable.
This could have happened to any oil company, anywhere in the world, at any time. Any company producing oil for everyone on the planet. While watching Sky News earlier, the irony of the video taken from the Greenpeace plane flying over “Ground Zero” as they called it, wasn’t lost on me. While the commentary lamented (in a hugely annoying voice) that big business was ruining our oceans with its constant thirst for oil, I was left wondering if the plane they were in was powered by. Fresh air? Fairy dust? Or some fraction of the crude oil that was spilling out of the seabed below them? I wonder.
You’ve used more aircraft fuel than I have this year, Greenpeace, so stop trying to lecture me on the moral rights and wrongs of my drive to work. Bugger off.
Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. And those greenies are full of shit.