Energy Ministry confirms new leak from capsized boat off Tobago

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Remnants of the oil spill scar the shoreline of the Scarborough waterfront in Tobago on February 10. – Photo by Corey Connelly

The Ministry of Energy confirmed in a June 13 release that a fresh hydrocarbon discharge had been discovered coming from the overturned vessel off the coast of Cove, Tobago.

On February 7, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) received a report that a ship about 150-200 metres south of Cove had capsized and was spewing a thick, oil-like substance which was washing up on the nearby coast.

Investigators later identified the vessel as Gulfstream, a vessel that had been towed by a tugboat called the Solo Creed.

Earlier on June 13 the Office of the Chief Secretary (OCS) of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) said a large amount of fuel was found to be coming from the boat.

A media release from the OCS said Chief Secretary Farley Augustine held an emergency meeting with stakeholders to discuss the latest spill.

In that release the OCS said it believed wave swells and high tides may have disturbed the vessel, resulting in more oil being discharged.

Thursday’s Energy Ministry release said the substance might be dissipating because of the sun and the waves.

Technical staff at the ministry, along with TT Salvage, a local salvage and marine firefighting service provider and QT Environmental Inc, a global oil spill response consulting company, were said to be ready to deploy contingency measures should the discharge get worse.

“These contingency measures include the use of the NOFI current-buster technology at the affected area offshore,” the release said.

It said work on removing the hydrocarbons from the vessel is continuing, with about 30,617 barrels of hydrocarbons being removed to date.

At a press conference in May, Energy Minister Stuart Young said the clean-up had cost about US$12 million up to that time, but estimated the entire exercise could cost US$30 million.