By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
INVESTIGATIONS into a feared spill at the Rubis Sandyport service station have revealed a fuel dispenser leak at the development's marina.
However, officials are still probing the matter as a sheen of oil was still observed on the water's surface after the faulty dispenser had been shut off and its pipeline cleared.
The findings were released in a preliminary report compiled by the Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment Division (EMRAD) of the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS).
Critical among recommendations outlined in the report was the request for steps to be taken to "eliminate the lack of co-operation received by government regulators", adding that the trend presented a major setback to timely and successful investigations.
The report - completed on June 16 and updated on June 24 - was conducted by EMRAD public analyst Anthony Ryan after an oily sheen was reportedly observed near a dock that housed a fuel oil dispenser.
The dispenser supplied gasoline and diesel to various sea crafts, and was connected to two pipelines for gasoline and diesel.
A fuel oil leak was detected in the gasoline pipeline after it was pressure tested, the report read.
"The pressure testing on the gasoline and diesel pipelines carried out on June 12, 2015 held and passed," the report read.
"As a result representatives from both the Volatile Substance Section at the Ministry of Works and the Environmental and Monitoring Risk Assessment agreed to the resumption of operations of the fuel oil dispenser on the dock. However, on June 15, 2015 it was reported to EMRAD by Mr Freeman Hanna that the pipelines failed, indicating possibly that the pipeline breach may have been a result of the pressure testing that is, the excessive pressures place on the pipelines during the pressure testing exercise."
The report continued: "Several days after the decommissioning of the fuel oil pipelines leading from the dispenser on the dock and the absence of fuel oils from the said pipelines, fuel oil sheen remains on the water’s surface."
In his report, Mr Ryan noted that the Sandyport Development Company (SDC) was unco-operative with information requests for complete drawings of storm drains and details surrounding an historical fuel oil spill.
Mr Ryan advised that all contributory factors for the sheen should be fully investigated, adding that the SDC should accept some responsibility for the sheen and share in the clean up exercise.
At a meeting with personnel from Rubis, DEHS, Ministry of Works and Sandyport developers on June 19, Rubis managing director Gordon Craig pointed to eight different observations of hydrocarbons in the area.
"They are as follows," read minutes from the meeting, "generators on site, vehicles parked, people dumping debris, commercial car wash on the eastern side, degreaser/armour all, (a company) washing their trucks in the back of the gas station, restaurant dumping food waste in the canal, and potential fuel in the ground as well as residual in the ground."
Mr Ryan called for all car washing on the property to be discontinued immediately.
In a statement today, Minister of Environment Kenred Dorsett emphasised the government's commitment to the establishment of the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection and the regulation of the downstream petroleum industry.
He pledged to keep the public informed about the ongoing investigation.
"There was concern of a possible leak at the Rubis Sandyport Service Station after an oily sheen was witnessed on the water at the dock near the site," Mr Dorsett said.
"It was found, upon inspection, that there was a leak at the dispenser closest to the boat fuelling dock. That dispenser has since been deactivated and remains inoperable. An unreported historical spill among other factors is being considered in the ongoing investigation."
Calls placed to SDC president Garth Buckner were unreturned.
Fears about the Sandyport leak have emerged as Rubis is in a court battle over a 2012 underground fuel leak in the Marathon constituency.
Yesterday, Mr Dorsett maintained that DEHS officials were satisfied with the response from both Rubis and the Sandyport station owner.