TEMA: Scarborough boom replaced, containment of oil spill ongoing

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Work ongoing on the coast at Scarborough to clean-up the oil spill. – Jaydn Sebro

Containment of the February 7 oil spill, which occurred some 200 metres off the coast of the Cove Eco-Industrial Park, Tobago, is still a major issue, according to director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) Allan Stewart.

A Ministry of Energy media release said the oily substance, which has been polluting the island’s south-eastern coast, is bunker fuel. The spill was caused by an overturned barge – the Gulfstream – which was being towed by a tug boat – the Solo Creed – from Panama to Guyana, according to a statement from the Ministry of National Security. The latter vessel has since vanished and its owner has yet to come forward.

In an interview with Newsday on Monday, Stewart said, “We continue to do containment at various key locations of the coastline, focusing on the mangrove areas, preventing the existing oil spills from going on to the Caribbean side – which will prevent it from impacting beaches like Mt Irvine, Store Bay and those beaches along that coastline. The teams are working strongly on that.”

He said oil residue was noticed near Scarborough recently when a cruise ship arrived.

Booms have been placed to contain the oil and protect the Scarborough port, which not only welcomes cruise ships but the inter-island ferries.

“We have been working on that boom as they have been replaced in the Scarborough port to mitigate against any further damage – to protect the cruise ship and the inter-island fast ferry.”

He said the Ministry of Energy has mobilised T&T Salvage LLC to tackle the wrecked barge, which is lodged on a reef.

“Their work will include doing hydrographic surveys on the vessel with the objective of coming up with a plan as to how they best can extract what is in the vessel, an understanding of the compartments and they also would be taking care of any hydrocarbons that would leave the ships.”He added: “They are using a certain type of technology that would allow them to take care of that. That is supposed to start sometime later down in this week.”

He refuted rumours that the vessel was overturned over the weekend to stop the flow of oil.

“It has moved about 70 metres over time based on satellite imagery, but it’s still in that position where it is positioned on the reef itself.”