When you have a water leak from the ceiling in your ground floor condo or apartment what do you do?

  • A. move the fish aquarium under it
  • B. grab an outdoor garbage can, some soap, and take a shower
  • C. bang on the ceiling with a broom and yell at your neighbour upstairs to aim for the toilet PLEASE
  • D. call the building superintendent to shut the main valve to the building
  • E. ignore it and hope it goes away


The correct answer is D for Duh who chose E? So what’s next?

What if your building has 50 floors? How does the plumber extraordinaire figure out which unit is at the headwaters even with the help of construction plans?

Water is fluid and stealth. She slips through the most unexpected cracks (many a plumber can attest to that as they bend over to fix a leaky sink) and weaves her way through the most unpredictable of places, like the little drop of water I just found on my laptop screen.

A single raindrop found her way into my purse, squeezed herself into the thin slit of my closed laptop, and expanded again onto my screen when I sat down to write the post. I then delicately wiped her off with the edge of my cotton sweatshirt sleeve which sucked her up into its fibres and now she’s trapped. But not for long. Soon she will evaporate and join the rainclouds once again.

As for the ceiling leak, eventually it will get fixed through a systematic investigation, suite by suite, pipe by pipe. Rest assured that you would have more than enough time to go shopping for a pair of high-waisted jeans for your friendly neighbourhood plumber. And kudos to you for being that Woman Not Waiting for the hairy mountain pass to make its appearance again before stepping into leadership.

Now imagine that there is a leak underground. It’s a fluid, but it’s not pure water. It’s a chemical cocktail used to leech oil from tar sands and it’s tired of hanging out in a pond with all the other tailings. It too can slip into the thinnest of cracks.

The Tar Sand drop tells its buddies that there are free flowing rivers they can go swimming in and which can take them to even more exotic places like aquifers, but they have to keep it on the down-low or else they might draw too much attention to themselves. So they slowly escape from their overcrowded living cesspool to freedom. WOOHOO!

After a while, a tailings gang collects in the aquifers and the thugs start feeling a little overcrowded again so they create an underground movement and disperse into different territories controlled by well lords who promise them access to the great outdoors again. They spread to farm lands, bath tubs, pots of chicken noodle soup, bottled water, water glasses, dog dishes, and many other exciting places.

News of their adventures leak from the tailing ponds, but what does the fossil fuel industry do?

Pick E! Pick E!

Well, they don’t actually actively ignore the breach, but they do ignore the fact that liquid goes where it wants to and not only into their seepage collection ditch. The corporate toddlers just falsely hope that it doesn’t happen. The ground the ponds are on is not a 170 square kilometre ceramic bathtub, so natural points of entry to the water table pretty much guarantee contamination.

At this point, the damage is done and ongoing. There is no way to plug the leak because the leak is between every grain of  “quaternary” sediment as noted on this diagram. The term may sound like the fossil fuel industry has devised a special protective base layer, but all it means is that the sediment formed anytime between 2.5 million years ago and now. It says nothing about how porous it is.

Unfortunately, the only way to stop the leak is to empty the ponds. Then either neutralize the toxins or blast them out into deep space.

“Pigs In Spaaaaace!” (I couldn’t resist)

And there you have one of many good reasons why the Tar Sands are bad news for the planet.

Care to offer up a few more?