The Blood-Red Creek Of Ontario

Environmental disasters are nothing new these days, but for the most part, they get buried and rarely reach the public. When a river turns blood-red, however, it’s hard not to raise some questions. And the residents of one Canadian region certainly weren’t happy about what they saw.

Etobicoke Creek

Image Credit: Facebook/Mark Reed

Image Credit: Facebook/Mark Reed

Etobicoke Creek is a 36 miles long river flowing into Lake Ontario. The strange name of the Creek comes from an aboriginal word meaning ‘the place where the black alders grow,’ and the people who first inhabited the area had a deep respect for the incredible source of fresh water and fish that the Creek was. It turns out; the Creek is more than important for the local biosphere.

The Creek’s Vital Role

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Etobicoke Creek plays a vital role in the whole ecosystem of the region. It is a constant source of drinking water and food, and without it, nature around the river would simply collapse. Everything is interlinked, and the majority of people seem to know this. And they go out of their way to monitor any changes.

Keeping An Eye Out For Nature

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Every five years, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority conducts and releases a report about the health of the Etobicoke Creek. This report is incredibly important to the region, as it forces people to assess and avoid environmental problems and disasters. But what the report started showing in recent years is worrying.

Environmental Troubles

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

The land around Etobicoke Creek has naturally been getting more urbanized than ever. This means that many trees from the area were logged, and instead, roads and houses were built. But this poses a very big problem for the Creek itself, as well as for the diversity of life in and around it. The Creek now appears to be under severe stress.

The Human Problem

Image Credit: Facebook/Mark Reed

Image Credit: Facebook/Mark Reed

The population growth has directly been affecting Etobicoke Creek for the past few years, and not in a good way. The lack of trees makes it harder for the soil to absorb water, and that, along with the current climate change rampage, wreaks havoc on the region. And people are feeling the effects.

Excessive Flooding

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

Image Credit: Facebook/Shoreline Views - From the Humber River to Etobicoke Creek & beyond

The water runoff ability of the land around Etobicoke Creek has decreased so dramatically in recent years, that just about any harder rain that comes causes flooding. In the spring, when ice and snowmelt, the situation gets even direr. What is left of the natural Creek area needs to be protected; otherwise it threatens many lives. But sometimes, humans just keep making the situation even worse.

A Strange Sight

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

One morning, the residents of a small town in the vicinity of Etobicoke Creek woke up to a very puzzling sight. Their river turned blood-red overnight. And the tint wasn’t just a little bit of coloring in some parts of the water. The whole body of water ran as red as can be. So what caused this to happen?

The Cause Of The Disaster

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

Obviously, the red coloring of the river wasn’t natural. It didn’t come from any algae coloring the water, nor was it some seasonal trick of nature. It was humans who caused it. Somehow, they managed to spill over 100 gallons into the waterway. But just who would do such a thing?

Who Is Responsible?

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Apparently, the ink came from a company in the area, and it seems to have been an accidental spillage. An employee operating a forklift wasn’t paying enough attention during his shift, and he pierced right through two massive drums of printing ink. Now that the damage was done, it was time to see what the consequences were going to be.

Assessing The Damage

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

The Ministry of Environment or Conservation and Parks immediately sent people to assess the situation. It seemed like this could be a potentially terrible environmental disaster, so they had all hands on deck. Thankfully, there were no dead fish or other wildlife in or around the Creek. A crisis had been averted. But the incident was still not to be taken lightly.

Clean-Up Begins

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

The clean-up of the river and the surrounding area had to begin swiftly. Letting the ink pollute the water and the soil could mean the region would be unable to sustain wildlife in the future. The Ministry of the Environment and Conservation and Parks acted fast and helped mitigate the disaster. But would the company responsible for the spill be held responsible?

Pressing Charges?

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Image Credit: Facebook/BlogTo

Surprisingly, the company that was behind the ink spill was not brought to the court, and no charges were even raised against it. As the incident was an accident, the company claimed to have not been fully responsible. However, they did have to cover the clean -up costs. In these kinds of battles, it’s the small victories that count. And this event was not an isolated one. 

The Bigger Problem

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

Image Credit: Facebook/22 Division Toronto Police Service

Companies all over the world keep polluting the natural world in unheard-of ways, and they often do it behind the covers. Big companies are among the biggest environmental polluters on this planet, and yet, they are rarely held responsible for their actions. So who ends up footing the bill?

Who Is Left To Clean Up?

Image Credit: Facebook/Li Dong

Image Credit: Facebook/Li Dong

If the companies who are responsible for the pollution don’t own up to what they cause, it is the taxpayer who is left responsible for the clean-up. And it is not just the taxpayers’ money that gets spent on these clean-ups. Often, it is volunteers and small self-funded organizations that refuse to live in a polluted world that picks up the slack. But is this system sustainable?

The Future Of Pollution

Image Credit: Facebook/Stefan Lialias

Image Credit: Facebook/Stefan Lialias

As our economy grows, so do our pollution rates. Big companies will keep getting bigger, and they will continue to destroy the environment even more. If those big players don’t get taxed with financial, legal, as well as ethical obligations, our nature will never stand a chance. 

The ink spill incident at Etobicoke Creek is not, unfortunately, an isolated event. Accidents, as well as intentional pollutants, just like this one, are happening all over the world, and people can only stand by and watch their natural world get destroyed in front of them. That is if they let it. There is always plenty of activism one can do for the benefit of the environment. And it’s a big step for humankind.

Sources: TRCAGreen BeltBramptonDaily HiveCBCThe GuardianPublic IntegrityGreen Biz

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