Chevron-Ecuador Oil Spill

Oil Spilt

I caused an oil spill, but nothing like what’s shown above.

The other day I was working on my 2005 Subaru Outback. I was hoping to change my oil; I’ve never changed my own oil before so this was going to be an adventure… and that it was. I’m more of a computer person than I am a car person, but I’m looking to learn. Unfortunately, I don’t have any car ramps (I’ll be asking Santa for some this Christmas) but there’s enough room for me to barely squeeze underneath. I spotted an oil filter and a drum that looked like it would contain black gold. I thought to myself, “… Great, that’s pretty accessible, I can do this – no problem!” Like I said, I’m not much of a car person so I don’t have all the correct tools laying around. I found myself a paint tray to collect the oil and I had to order a new tool set because I didn’t have the needed 17mm socket wrench (acquiring tools is a good thing; after equipping myself with a decent toolset I feel like I can now become a father; every father has to have a toolset, don’t they? The toolset magically unlocks the ability for me to reproduce; I love leveling up).

So there I am underneath the car with my paint tray in place and me trying to un-wrench this bolt that was tightened by power tools. Bingo! It’s loose. With my previously purchased mechanic gloves on I go ahead and take out the bolt and comes rushing out what I think is oil. I think to myself, “… Wow, that’s a lot of oil.” After several minutes the oil reaches the top of the paint tray and starts to leak over the edge. Thankfully the stream ended with only a little overflow, but having to pull the tray out from underneath the car… that’s when I caused the oil spill. Needless to say, it was barely anything compared to the millions of gallons that contaminate our oceans and rainforests. I didn’t spill the whole tray or anything like that, just whatever found its way over the edges. “This is odd; this doesn’t look quite like oil… it’s slightly red? Uh oh…” I drained all of my transmission fluid.

Before I realized this was transmission fluid, I also went ahead and changed the oil filter… I hope there isn’t much of a difference between a transmission filter and an oil filter… I mean, they’re both oils, right? Now skipping back to when I figured out what I did, I managed to push my car a little bit backwards so I could clean up the oil; it really solidified the idea that was transmission fluid when I turned on my car and tried backing it up and it wouldn’t move. Again, I’m still learning.

There are several issues I’m faced with right now, but what currently has most of my attention is the fact that I have an oil spill in my driveway. This is when guilty thoughts about the health of our planet start rushing into my noggin. The only thing I could think of to do was to push it away with water… it’s incredible how oil lingers around. If I thought this was such a pain cleaning up, I couldn’t begin to fathom what it takes to clean up large-scale spills; it almost makes me want to cry feeling the pain nature has to endure by our mistakes (or by intentional, environmental warfare). This makes me want to point out a big scandal from the 90s that has been resurfacing, and that’s the Chevron-Ecuador environmental disaster that’s finally biting Chevron in the ass (also clicked here for more general information about this issue). An oil spill in the ocean is one thing, but an “oil spill” (if you want to call it that) in the Amazons is a whole different issue. I would imagine cleaning up a spill in the ocean would be easier than trying to clean-up one within the jungles of Ecuador.

Several hours and $75 later, I replace my transmission fluid and get my car shifting smoothly again; even better than it was before. Though, I still need to change my oil.

Photo by Caroline Bennett / Rainforest Action Network

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