Decades before BP made hazmat suits the hottest thing in summer beachwear, Ohio was America’s breadbasket of environmental catastrophe. So it seemed perfectly plausible when a press release last week sounded the alarm about a fresh oil spill on Lake Erie.
According to the Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project, a black substance was spotted washing along the beach at Sheldon’s Marsh, near Huron. As the release’s delightfully purple prose puts it: “The waves poured in black as the night’s sky swallowing with them an entire area of land.”
But Scott Sharpe of the state’s Division of Natural Areas and Preserves has seen this slick before. The black discharge is peat runoff from a nearby recessed piece of land, he says. Translation: Lake Erie is contaminated with dirt.
“It’s probably been eroding for the last 100 years at least, so depending on the wind direction or speed, that’s been occurring for 100 years,” says Sharpe.
By the time the Gas Accountability Project’s theory had been debunked, the group claimed it was merely passing along the news from some other guy, and took no responsibility for the lackluster metaphors.