Christmas Island’s Maritime Curse Continues

by Dom on January 9, 2012

This afternoon, I visited Facebook and found this statement, from one of my closest friends:

“Thinking of you all on the island, a bit lost for words really…. What could possibly go wrong next? When is the place going to get a break from shit going wrong!!”

It made me immediately fear something awful, like or this or this or this.

I continued looking, now wanting a news article, and found one of my brother’s friends had said this:

“what an absolute f@#$ing disaster!!!!!”

Then, from another old friend and my best friends’ father, I saw two headlines that made me stop, much like the articles I liked-to above did while they were current:

Phosphate ship breaking up at Christmas Island” and the slightly-less-accurate “Christmas Island container ship breaking up

Of all the things that could happen to Christmas Island, this was not one of the things I imagined I would see.  And in comparison to many of the recent events linked to above, this is less tragic. But it is so much more intense for those of who know Christmas Island. And it raises so many questions.

As I write this, the most recent story I can find is this one. It includes the picture below.

Tycoon Spilling oil and phosphate into Flying Fish Cove

I grew up in that water. I missed it when I was off-island, and I have missed it for the last ten years. To me, the water of Flying Fish Cove is one of the major ingredients in the essence of Christmas Island. Phosphate and oil are not good for coral, reef fish or sea birds. Not good for swimming, surfing the reef break or tourism. Not good for unloading at the island’s only wharf. Not good for the affordability of already overpriced goods.

To add some perspective for this site, I can’t begin to understand how Banabans and Nauruans feel about the devastation of their islands. I have no idea about the disenfranchisement and abuses experienced by those in Bougainville and West Papua. Christmas Island was lucky in that it avoided such destruction. But that aside, and knowing that we still have the island, is actually of little solace. And it is humbling perspective.

The recent maritime history of Christmas Island has been tragic. While completely different from previous events, this is in its own way, for many people, just as shocking. It is far more personal for those like me, who have not been there for recent evens, but still call “the rock” home. It raises innumerable questions, and in time, some of the inevitable questions will be answered. If anything, it will again highlight the vulnerable nature of Christmas Island, and bring attention to a range of issues, some of which I have raised before, and some of which I have left languishing in unfinished posts. I will probabl have the drive to revisit them, even if the timing is poor.

I think most people’s reactions will probably be similar to mine outlined above. For now, I’ll watch and see what happens, but the island is going to need one hell of a salvage crew, and even better luck to avoid serious fallout form what is another disaster to hit Christmas Island.

Questions, comments, thoughts, retorts?

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