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Oil Spill Expert Questions Response To Spill

A specialist oil spill responder yesterday questioned the authorities’ response to a heavy crude oil spill off Grand Bahama.

Captain Ray Darville, of Overseas Marine Group, who offered his company’s services after the spill, but was reportedly turned down, claimed to have seen what took place as the container ship owned by Swiss-based Mediterranean Shipping Co. departed the Freeport Harbour early Monday morning.

“It happened so close there [to the harbor] and we have slips inside the harbor that they could have just as well turned around, put it straight into those slips, and we could have boomed it off immediately…rather than taking it offshore and just letting it go into the environment,” said Darville, whose firm specializes in marine construction, salvage operations and environmental services, including oil spill response.

The MSC Eugenia was en route to Everglades, Florida. Shortly after leaving the harbor its crew noticed the storage tank was leaking oil, officials said.

The ship was steered into deeper waters — around 12 miles from the harbor — before the crew erected a boom around the vessel and began immediate repairs, Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys Hanna- Martin said hours after the incident.

The ship’s crew was also able to transport the remaining oil from the damaged storage tank to another tank, helping to stem the flow of oil around 3:30 p.m., she stated.

The storage tank was reportedly carrying approximately 3,000 barrels of fuel.

Darville, who reportedly has over 30 years’ experience in marine engineering, salvage, oil spill immediate response and clean-up activities, accused the government of downplaying the spill.

Hanna-Martin and Minister of Environment and Housing Kenred Dorsett were unable to confirm what caused the storage tank to rupture, or the amount of oil spewed into the ocean.

When pressed for more details outside Cabinet yesterday, Dorsett said that information would become clear as officials made headway with the ongoing investigation.

He indicated that a full report could take up to two weeks to complete, but more details are expected well before then.

Hanna-Martin, who on Monday was joined by officials from the Oil Spill Contingency Committee, made up of several government ministries and non-government agencies, said the oil spill should have no major impact on the environment.

By Royston Jones Jr.
Guardian Staff Reporter

Posted in World News

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