Thursday 19th October, 2006


EMA to probe Chag oil spill

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By Shaliza Hassanali

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) plans to launch a full-scale investigation into a severe oil spill, which occurred two days ago in Chaguaramas.

This was revealed by communications specialist of the EMA, Alicia Charles, during a telephone interview yesterday.

Up to late yesterday evening, officials of the EMA and the Ministry of Energy and Energy Industries were trying to determine the source of the problem.

“We have to launch an investigation to find what caused the spill,” Charles said.

Although the spill took place on Tuesday, Charles said, “it was rather unfortunately that the EMA was only informed of the matter on Wednesday.”

The spill was caused after a 500-foot long derelict boat named Kelly’s Mark, which had been anchored behind Caribbean Dockyard for more than 15 years, started to sink on Tuesday, due to a small leak.

By yesterday morning, half of the rusty boat was submerged.

“Within hours of the boat going down, oil started floating on the water’s surface,” said Daniel “Spider” Richards, who operates a boat service in Chaguaramas.

Richards said he believed that the oil was stored somewhere on the boat.

With the changes in tide, Richards said the oil had been moving back and forth.

“The oil has gone as far as Power Boats and Crews Inn within a matter of hours,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.

He said the spill would no doubt affect marine life, sea bathers and the livelihood of fishermen in the area.

“Look at the outside of our boats... it’s covered with oil and tar,” Richards said.

“It would take us days to clean.

“This water was crystal clear just a few days ago, now it’s black.”

Yesterday, Caribbean Dockyard hired Richards and a crew of 12 workers to disperse a chemical called Simple Green into the water.

The chemical has been slowly dissolving the oil.

A float made of sponge was also placed around the perimeter of the boat to prevent the oil from spreading.

While Richards’ crew was trying to do damage control in the water, two men were seen on deck pumping water out of the boat.

“Once the water is out, the boat will float again,” Richards assured.

“The biggest problem is removing the oil from the water.”

Richards said it was up to the Coast Guard and the Tourism Development Authority to decide the future of the boat.

Calypsonian D Mighty Trini, who showed up at the scene to comfort those affected by the spill, said “This was a disaster waiting to happen.”

Trini said several calls made to the Ministry of Health to remove the boat were ignored.

“The boat was a breeding ground for mosquitoes and an eyesore to the western peninsula,” he said.

“We have totally ignored the saying that prevention is better than cure... Now, this is the end result.”





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