By DANA SMITH
Tribune Staff Reporter
CONCERNED locals reported a “huge” oil spill in the Clifton area yesterday afternoon, but the source of leak has yet to be discovered.
Gary, an employee of Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas, said he was leaving the dock in a boat with a small group of customers at around 2.30pm when he noticed the water was dark and murky with oil.
“It was right outside the Bahamas Electricity Corporation plant,” he said. “As we went through that area, the water just went black.
“It’s all in the containment area and all inside the bay. It’s huge.
“You can put your hand in and you can see the black oil on your hand. If you put a white cloth in the water, it turns black. It’s thick, dark oil.”
Gary said it appeared to him the oil was reportedly coming from the BEC Clifton power plant.
When called for comment, BEC public relations and corporate programmes officer Arnette Ingraham said the corporation had no knowledge of a spill.
“At this point we have not heard of anything,” she said. “We haven’t gotten any reports of anything going on down there.”
Ms Ingraham explained the oil could have come from a ship or even another company in the area, adding: “For now, we don’t know anything about it and we don’t think that we’ve had any issues down there.”
However, she added that she would follow-up with the plant and send a representative out there to assess the situation.
Earlier this year, Robert Kennedy Jr, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defence Council, urged Bahamians to take a serious stand on the preservation of the country’s precious underwater resources.
He said he was very concerned about the progressive breakdown of one of the country’s most famous underwater reefs.
According to Mr Kennedy, several reefs in the Clifton Pier area have been nearly destroyed by repeated oil spills from BEC’s Clifton Pier Diesel Power Plant.
Last April, Fred Smith – who represents the Coalition to save Clifton – along with Mr Kennedy Jr and Troy Albury of the Save Guana Cay movement, said he has spoken to Esso, Texaco, Shell and BEC about their environmental responsibilities at Clifton.
Those companies all run industrial operations at Clifton Pier.
Mr Smith said he has asked the companies for their Environmental Impact Assessments for the area and for them to assist with cleaning up the area.
Mr Albury said Clifton’s reefs seem to be in good condition despite oil spills in the area, but added that “stiff penalties” must be implemented for individuals who break the law.
Mr Smith had told Tribune Business in April that he has dived with Stuart Cove in Clifton’s waters “and they are saturated with pools and drips of oil and pollution. Each industrial sector blames the other.”
Noting the number of industrial plants in the area, Mr Smith did not single out any particular entity for blame.