News

Oil Spill off Grand Bahama “Not Likely to Threaten Bahamian Environment”

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - December 4, 2012

Above: Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin

By the Caribbean Journal staff

The oil spill off Grand Bahama on Monday is not likely to threaten the Bahamian environment, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said at a press conference.

An investigation is already underway into the leak from a Mediterranean Shipping Company vessel, the Eugenia, which left Freeport Harbour at 4:00 AM Dec. 3. en route to the Everglades with around 3,000 barrels of oil on board.

“While departing the Harbour, it was noticed that there was a leak, described as oil coming out of the vessel in a bubble formation,” Hanna-Martin said. “When the crew and captain realized that there was a leak, they continued out to sea into an area which is called the steering current.”

The Minister said the crew immediately erected a boom around the vessel on the starboard side, which had the effect of containing the leak.

They then began repairs to the tank that was damaged, and transferred the oil to another holding tank, which staved off an increased flow, she said.

“I just want to give a brief overview of what transpired because there is a lot and my main concern is there is a lot of speculation, which is not accurate and we want to make sure we get on top of it quickly. Just so you can understand the function of the oil spill committee, it is a committee that kicks in immediately when there is any report of an oil spill of any shape or form,” she said. “The leaders in the Family Islands are the Administrators and it’s a combination of governmental and non-governmental agencies.”

The ship is not currently being penalized, unless the Attorney General’s department can show that assessments attribute environmental damage from the spill.

Members of the comittee did a flyover of the area and viewed the nature of the leak.

“Based on what we have seen and based on the expert advice that is formed on this committee, it is our view that the natural ocean currents will have the effect of dispersing the oil,” she said. “It was not thought prudent to use dispersal chemicals because experts were of the view that it would cause the oil to sink to the ocean floor and potentially cause marine damage.”

Thus far, no health and safety regulations have been violated, and there is “no need for the public to be alarmed,” she said.

“It was our view that the natural ocean currents will take it out to sea and in that regard, I want to reiterate that the Harbour is not at risk,” she said. “In fact, cruise ships came in as this whole thing unfolded.  No coastal area is at risk.  No beach area is at risk.  It is an ‘At Sea’ event and it is our view that the normal ocean currents will take care of it, but we will continue to monitor it.”

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