The Ministry of Environment and
Housing is “committed to ensuring that all is being done” to limit the environmental
impact of oil spills in Freeport, Grand Bahama and Rock Sound, Eleuthera, a
press conference was told on Thursday.
The Ministry and its relevant
agencies - the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology Commission (BEST)
and the Department of Environment Health
Services (DEHS) - are “actively engaged
in ensuring that remedial measures are undertaken” in the wake of the spills,
the Minister, Kendred Dorsett said.
In Freeport, after the
hole in the stricken vessel was plugged, the remaining fuel was transferred
into a secure tank.
The vessel, MSC Eugenia, is berthed at Freeport
Harbour, being prepared for dry-docking.
During the transfer of the fuel remaining in the
vessel’s tank, said Mr Dorsett, three
layers of containment booms were deployed to militate against possible release
into the wider environment.
Approximately 10 metric tons of fuel was
released and oil skimmers were deployed to collect it from the boomed
“This was a ‘Tier 1’ release, and our policies
inform that it can
be adequately managed
by the party responsible
for the release, either alone
or in collaboration with their partners,” said Mr Dorsett.
“Nevertheless, agencies of the
Government were immediately mobilised for oversight. “Our focus was, and is, on remediation measures to protect the
company, Resolve Marine, was advised against using a chemical dispersant to accelerate the dissipation of the released fuel, said the
Such an application, he said, might
in the marine water column, becoming
more bio-available to marine organisms, thereby having a potentially negative impact on marine
“It is preferable to let nature
take its course, with mechanical action of the waves facilitating break up
of the fuel, allowing natural attenuation to occur, and allowing the dispersed material to
flow with the natural tide into the Atlantic Ocean,
where there are no land based resources at risk,”
said Mr Dorsett.
The Government’s team reported that the released
oil would likely be transported by tidal action into the Florida Straits and out
into the Atlantic. No land or
land-based resources appeared to be at risk.
“We are satisfied that appropriate measures are
being taken, and all necessary personnel in place,” said Mr Dorsett.
A formal report is being compiled and will
include the team’s assessment of any environmental impact associated with this
As investigations are ongoing and the Government
relies on information from its technical agencies, said Mr Dorsett, “we will
ensure that the public is kept abreast on the status of this matter.”
On Tuesday the BEST Commission was informed of a
fuel spill at the Rock Sound, Eleuthera Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC)
A BEC team from New Providence travelled to Rock
Sound that day and along with DEHS assessed the situation and devised a
Baychem, a New Providence-based
company, has been mobilised to excavate contaminated soil and backfill with
“The area of concern is some
distance from the shore, so there is no marine impact,” said Mr Dorsett. “The
Water and Sewerage Corporation has been alerted to the spill and is looking
into its possible impact on the water table.”