By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Electricity Corporation executives met with government officials and a team of biological engineers from the United States yesterday morning after it was discovered that fuel from the corporation’s Clifton Pier facility was leaking along the coastline.
According to Environment Minister Ken Dorsett, the fuel from BEC was mixed with oil from another source that began spilling into canals near Stuart Cove’s Aqua Adventures and Albany last week.
He said the government’s main focus is on containing the oil.
During an address in the House of Assembly, Mr Dorsett said an inspection of BEC’s plant on Sunday revealed that not only was fuel being discharged from one of the facility’s outfalls, but it also revealed that BEC’s containment booms were not preventing all of the fuel emitted into the marine environment from spreading.
“Initial reports indicate that on Wednesday of last week, Stuart Cove’s discovered an extraordinary amount of fuel in the canal area of their operations and the dive sites they use off the southwest coast of the island of New Providence. Initial reports also indicate that Albany also reported fuel in the water and coastline of their property. On Thursday past it was reported to the port controller that there was a smell of oil and an oil slick seen in the Clifton area,” he said.
He said that on Sunday the Royal Bahamas Defence Force took members of the National Oil Spill Committee along the coastline to inspect the marine environment.
“I also inspected the outfalls of the BEC Plant, the BEC containment booms in Clifton Bay and Stuart Cove’s on Sunday morning,” Mr Dorsett said. “The BEC containment booms were not preventing all of the fuel emitted into the marine environment from spreading. It also appeared that fuel was being discharged from one of the outfalls. An inspection of Stuart Cove’s facilities, revealed evidence of fuel discharge in their canal, along the coastline and on the bottoms of their vessels.
“This morning (Monday) two biological environmental engineers from Coastal Systems International arrived in Nassau. A briefing meeting was held at the Ministry of Works at 8:30 am for all government stakeholders and advisors, including officials from BEC. As we speak, the government’s response team and our environmental consultants are inspecting the relevant properties, including BEC’s Clifton Pier Plant.”
Mr Dorsett said all relevant parties and businesses in the industrial area will be engaged in discussions with the government over the next few days to assess and confirm the source or sources of the oil spills as well as the extent of the contamination of properties in the area, including the Clifton Heritage Park.
The consultants will also advise the government on the best way to mitigate and remediate the oil leaks.
This latest spill comes after a significant quantity of oil washed ashore on Adelaide Beach.
The oil found at Adelaide Beach is suspected to have been dumped by a passing ship, according to Aviation and Transport Minister Glenys Hanna Martin, who addressed parliament on the matter.
Last month BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller also denied that BEC’s Clifton Pier plant was the source of the oil. Mr Miller explained at the time that if the oil came from BEC’s plant it would have “run in the opposite area” near Jaws Beach away from Adelaide.