MS Explorer, Al Gore, Carbon footprints

Sunken Antarctic ship now 5-kilometer oil slick

By —— Bio and Archives--December 3, 2007

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Al Gore’s self-touted, mouse size carbon footprint has just developed elephantitis.

MS Explorer, the “legendary polar expedition ship” owned by his pal G.A.P. Adventures CEO Bruce Poon Tip, which sank last week in the Antarctic has left a garguntan carbon foot on the ocean floor.  And it’s a carbon footprint that’s harmful to penguins and other wildlife.

Little would have been known about the damage to the Antarctic’s fragile eco system from the sunken 75-metre vessel were it not for a team of Chilean scientists who sussed out the damage in its aftermath and reported their findings.

The Chilean scientists told the daily La Tercera that fuel from the eco cruise ship is now a five-kilometer long slick.  The MS Explorer, star of the eco warrior, was powered by diesel.  And while diesel is less polluting than crude oil, it still left a highly toxic environmental mess that could directly affect seals, sea lions, and other animals that inhabit the area.

And the former vice president who lectures us that global warming will destroy Mother Earth should be lectured about the sunken vessel’s fuel that didn’t just remain on the surface of the water, but that scientists say is continually rising from 1.5 kilometers below the surface.  In other words, the toxic damage is also affecting the fish and other sea creatures upon which the region’s birds and sea mammals prey. 

“There’s always an environmental risk when fuel leaks into the ocean, especially in a zone that boasts a high level of biodiversity,” said scientist Verónica Vallejos.

Vallejos and her colleagues are particularly concerned about how the leaked fuel might affect the area’s penguin populations. Three different types of penguins inhabit the islands nearest the site of the accident.

“The concern is that this fuel slick will obstruct the journey species such as the Papua penguin make this time of year to Ardley Island, home to the largest breeding colony of these penguins,” said marine biologist María José Roselló.

The first vessel built to ply the frigid waters of Antarctic and the first to go down there, the MS Explorer sank on Thanksgiving Day near the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic peninsula called Graham Land. More than 150 passengers and crew were evacuated safely by lifeboats and then taken to King George Island, where they were clothed, fed, and checked by physicians in Chile’s Eduardo Frei Montalva air force base.

Mysteriously, the names of the 150-plus eco warriors who paid thousands of dollars to see the region’s icebergs and whales, have never been revealed.

Setting sail despite at least five faults since its last inspection, the vessel sank hours later and now lies on the ocean floor at a depth of some 4,921 feet (1,500 m) (ST, Nov. 26).

Environmentalists warn that the sunken ship poses environmental risks that go beyond just the leaked diesel fuel.

“Aside from the effects of the spilled fuel, we are also worried about parts of the ship such as the painting and the heating and air conditioning systems. Those could definitely affect the Antarctic’s marine life,” Samuel Leiba of Greenpeace Chile told the Santiago Times earlier this week.

Meanwhile, mum’s the mode for Gore and Poon Tip.

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Judi McLeod -- Bio and Archives | Comments

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Judi McLeod is an award-winning journalist with 30 years’ experience in the print media. A former Toronto Sun columnist, she also worked for the Kingston Whig Standard. Her work has appeared on Rush Limbaugh, Newsmax.com, Drudge Report, Foxnews.com.

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