Science & Environment

Oil Fouls Tobago Beaches As Officials Try To Find Barge Owner

An oil spill off the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has fouled native seashores and is now drifting towards Grenada and Venezuela, officers mentioned Thursday.

The spill, found on Feb. 7, was at first a mystery. Trinidad and Tobago’s Coast Guard noticed oil within the water and traced it to a capsized barge with no crew or indication of the place the vessel got here from. The slick rapidly lined close by seashores alongside Tobago’s southwestern shoreline because the ship continued to leak gas.

Authorities later mentioned the barge was being tugged from Panama to close by Guyana earlier than some form of accident came about. It’s unclear who owns the vessel or if anybody was aboard or injured when it sank.

It’s additionally unclear how a lot oil has already leaked or how far more the barge comprises.

Tobago’s chief secretary, Farley Augustine, told Reuters this week the slick had entered Grenada’s waters. Tobago has tried to handle the leak however has been unable to take action because the vessel is dangerously bobbing within the water.

Workers from the state-owned Heritage Petroleum Oil and Gas Co. clear up a spill that reached Rockly Bay seaside in southwestern Tobago on Feb. 11.

Akash Boodan/Associated Press

“We are unable to plug the leak, and unless we have information on how much fuel is in the barge or what exactly it contains we cannot move forward, except containment and skimming,” Augustine mentioned.

Authorities have put in a 40-foot perimeter across the web site to manage the oil slick, however cleanup crews have been working to clear seashores.

“We have a lot of questions, and now is the best time to have those questions answered,” Augustine later informed reporters. “We need to know the quantity and the material you were transporting, so we know what we have been dealing with, what we have been walking in, what we have been swimming in, what we have been trying to clean up from our shores.”

The Caribbean nation declared a national emergency earlier this week because the oil fouled coastal areas. Officials mentioned cleanup prices had been more likely to be an “extraordinary expense” for Tobago however declared the trouble a nationwide precedence.

View of the oil spill on Feb. 10 at Rockly Bay on Tobago.
View of the oil spill on Feb. 10 at Rockly Bay on Tobago.

CLEMENT WILLIAMS/AFP through Getty Images

Environmental teams mentioned the spill underscored the necessity for President Joe Biden to completely ban offshore drilling in U.S. waters, calling such exploration “reckless — period.”

“Oil and oceans don’t mix, and this disastrous oil spill from an overturned vessel off Trinidad and Tobago is the latest destructive example,” Alexcia Best, a marketing campaign affiliate for Oceania, mentioned in a statement. “As a Trinidad and Tobago national, I am personally hurt by this sudden crisis. The natural beauty of Tobago is a significant attraction for tourism, and this oil spill is a direct threat to that beauty.”

The Washington Post notes that Trinidad and Tobago is the biggest oil producer within the Caribbean, and the business accounts for greater than a 3rd of its gross home product.

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