Chemical Alley life

So we finally got some cargo orders and proceeded to Sarnia, Ontario, arriving early in the morning. We overshot the downtown part of Sarnia, and are waiting for the refinery to allow us to load. During my past visits to Sarnia, the people have always been nice, very friendly and accommodating. Sarnia, however has a nasty reputation as being Chemical Alley, having a richly polluted environment, from nearly a century of petrochemical processing in the area.

On our trip up from Hamilton across Lake Erie, past Detroit, to our current berth, up river from the bulk of the plants in Sarnia, we’ve encountered an abundance of natural life. Of course the time of year helps, but we’ve had a some opportunities to “connect” with nature.

For instance, yesterday I came down to the engine room and found a water bowl, and some barley on top of the generator. Seems the Third Engineer had a found himself a fine feathered engine room assistant. Probably drawn to the lights of the ship as we sailed at night, a bird was in the engine room, flying around, from the shaft tunnel to the generator; another bird was in the Cargo Control Room.

Of course we used to dealing with “nature” – the ER intake fan screens are always covered in a thick layer of flying insects lots of “life” there. Then, yearlong, there is a abundance of fatten spiders, enough so to make even non phobic people nervous. It is very strange how spiders like tankers. 

This morning, we are treated to a fine display of mothering skills, a mother duck with 8 or so duckling in tow, swimming around the stern of the ship, while tiny fish school nearby. Stepping off the gangway, we realize that the gangway is nearly on top of a Canadian goose nest. The eggs inside are intact and safe, albeit they’re parents sit nearby, anxiously waiting our departure; in the mean time, we moved the gangway.

Then I asked myself, is this really Sarnia, we are upriver, but still… There is a blob of of toxic chemicals below the surface of the river; there are caverns underground, filled to capacity with decades of dangerous byproducts of the chemical process. A thick haze hangs low over Sarnia,  reminding its citizen of the dubious title worst air quality in Canada.

Yet, here we have, despite all our human efforts to the opposite, signs of nature’s thriving spirit around us. Cool.

With that pleasant thought in mind, I wrap up this post, its time for lunch; yummy, omelette on the menu. 

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