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2002-09-06 15:56:44

Clifton Pier Covered In Oil

By Cara Brennen, The Tribune

Local dive shop owners on the south side of New Providence were particularly disturbed yesterday by a "larger than usual" oil spill at Clifton Pier.

A concerned owner, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, contacted The Tribune after the company's boat captains notified the management that the water on the south side of the pier "was covered in oil".

The owner said that while an oil spill was not uncommon in that area, the slick was larger than usual.

"We see oil in the water every day," said the owner, "but usually it is not this bad. This has been an ongoing problem."

Owners claim that the "ongoing disposal of oil and chemical waste in the water" aroud Clifton Pier, apart from damaging the environment, is also bad for business.

Dive shops in the area have lodged continuous complaints for more than a decade about the amount of oil in the water in the area, which is a choice spot for local and visiting divers because of its numerous coral beds.

"The coral in that area is suffering greatly. You have all this oil and then they try to disperse it with detergent so basically it's bombarded with chemicals and oil so how could anything alive survive in that environment," said the owner.

One of the boat captains at the company told The Tribune that earl yesterday morning he and his co-workers spotted a Boston Whaler carrying men in BEC uniforms who were pouring something into the water.

The captain said he believed it was detergent used to disperse the oil.

"It's bad for business," said another dive operator. "We get complaints all the time from customers who say that the oil gets in their hair and clothing and burns their eyes and skin."

BEC, Shell, Esso and Texaco all have physical plants at Clifton Pier, but no one is certain who is responsible for the oil leakages.

Sources from one of the petroleum companies told The Tribune yesterday that it is unlikely that the oil is coming from any of the private plants.

He explained that the end products in petroleum manufacturing would evaporate into the atmosphere if they were released.

"You would not see a deposit on the water surface from the release of our products," he said.

BEC has long maintained that it is not responsible for the pollution in or around the water in Clifton Pier and claims that they are being used as a scapegoat for all the companies that share the industrial zone. 

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