New Questions Over Oil Spill


Glenys Hanna-Martin


Tribune Senior Reporter


THE GOVERNMENT is digging deeper into the oil spill controversy, questioning if it was “prudent” for the cargo ship to be ordered out of Freeport Harbour as it spewed out “3,000 gallons” (8-10 metric tonnes) of oil.

Minister of Transport and Aviation Glenys-Hanna Martin told the media in a press conference yesterday that they are investigating, among other things, whether the MSC Eugenia should have continued out to sea as oil leaked from a gash in its hull.

Sources close to the harbour pilots who escorted the ship out told The Tribune that they were ordered by the port department to tow the ship 14 miles out to sea so that the oil would not contaminate the port area.

Port Controller, Commander Patrick McNeil, said during the press conference that the cargo-laden ship had to continue on its course after its hull was punctured while three miles outside the harbour.

“The ship was leaving the channel when the accident happened,” said Cmdr McNeil.

“It is better to go out to sea than to return back to the harbour.

“To turn back around and go back to the harbour would not be in the best interest of the harbour.”

Minister of the Environment, Kenred Dorsett, said after surveying the area 14 miles from Grand Bahama during a flyover, it was noticed that the oil slick had been carried out to sea by the ocean currents.

The Oil Spill Committee is scheduled to do another flyover of the area tomorrow.

Ms Hanna-Martin said the government has received full cooperation from the ship and port authorities and that the ship’s owners will be fully culpable for any costs related to the spill.

“Responsibility for meeting the cost of dealing with pollution and for meeting claims for damages rests with the ship’s owners,” she said.

She added that the Minster of Foreign Affairs has been asked to formally communicate with the US to discuss any possible impact the spill might have.

“It’s a matter of comity, just in case there is an issue. We ought to let our neighbours know,” said Ms Hanna-Martin.

The ship is currently boomed in Freeport Harbour, having its cargo unloaded before it can be put on dry dock for repairs, according to Mr Dorsett.

Cmdr McNeil said the hole in the ship appeared to be about 15 feet long and about five feet high.

“The hole on the side of the ship is a sizeable one, but it’s not that large,” he said.

Mr Dorsett said the Bahamas has always been prepared to handle the oil spill at sea, as a large number of vessels transport oil through these waters.

“The reality is when you look at the amount of barrels of oil that find its way for storage purposes on Grand Bahama, they come by ship, and so there is a live threat now when you consider the transshipment of petroleum and oil throughout our waters,” he said.


Islandboy242242 7 years, 8 months ago

I don't understand how our Government can be OK with the oil "going out to sea," and almost seem to dismiss the oil spill since the oil is not washing on our beaches. The Deep Water Horizon BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico took place 41 miles south of Lousiana.

That was 41 miles off the coast, this spill was only 10-14 miles off our coast. To add to that, Palm Beach Florida is only 86 miles away from Freeport Harbour. Where does the Government think that oil is going? Steering currents would be the Gulf Stream, which carry debris AND nutrients necessary for oceanic life throughout the Atlantic Ocean.

If we're lucky perhaps no one else will see the oil, and perhaps it will eventually sink in the deep ocean waters, but is it really right to simply dismiss the oil once it doesn't wash our way? We need to get real before something really scary happens.

I feel like the Bahamas as an independent country has been both extremely lucky, and extermely naive. And I'm not so sure we would be able to handle the disasters that others have been going through lately such as:

  • The BP Oil Spill
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • The Nuclear Disaster in Japan after Earthquakes
  • Chemical release - whether accidental or through acts of terrorism.

Just think about it, perhaps I'm being unfair.


positiveinput 7 years, 8 months ago

Our government of yesterday, today and maybe tommorrow are all to laid back. As we live our day to day lives we can observe the slackness of most every government official. For eg. from as simple as the road construction, one could notice road diversion signs were placed directly on corners making a hazard when pulling out of a corner. I guess after a traffic accident involving some unfortunate persons death occur, the construction company would have been addressed about it. Weeks back animal rights individual were voicing their views on the death of Bloody Mary; still where were the officials whom inspect these animals for the safety of their passengers and the animals themselves. Days ago a male from the detention center died with just as simple as passing him his medication being an option of cause. Or lets backtrack to the underage driver whom killed himself in a vehicle that was loaned to him. Bet the person who loan him the vehicle is still around to lend another. When will this slackness stop?


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