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Govt Under Fire Over Response To Grounded Barge

A still from the video of the grounded barge.

A still from the video of the grounded barge.

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration is again facing criticism from environmental groups angered by it's "disgraceful" response to the grounding and partial submersion of a supplies barge transporting, among other things, a large quantity of diesel fuel in Long Island.

"We are days in, and we have yet to hear a clear voice from the government say, 'this is my ministry's responsibility and this is how we are taking care of this," Sam Duncombe, founder of reEarth, told the Tribune during an interview Friday.

The environmental activist said her organisation, like others in the country, has been rendered "confused bystanders" by yet another environmental disaster.

Referring to accounts her organisation received about the Long Island crisis, Mrs Duncombe claimed maritime salvage companies were "there, in place and ready to go," but were turned away by officials.

She added: "This has been nothing short of a national disgrace if it is later proven to be true that they were sent away."

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, in a series of updates on his official Facebook page last weekend, said the barge was discovered on Saturday after running aground along the coastline of Grays, Long Island.

He said the barge was en route to Anguilla from Trinidad when it broke away from the tug transporting it.

In the days that followed, according to claims by residents and environmental agents on the ground in Long Island, poor communication and government directives sidelined salvage teams and local resources attempting to secure, analyse and remediate any long-term issues stemming from the incident.

On Wednesday, residents interviewed by The Tribune insisted intervention was prohibited for more than 72-hours. A move many said "made bad situation worse.”

Those claims came moments after Transport and Aviation Minister Frankie Campbell told his Parliamentary colleagues he was “satisfied” that the matter was being adequately addressed.

Up to press time Friday, the government had yet to give a clear indication of how much fuel was lost or what efforts were being undertaken to remediate.

For her part Friday, Mrs Duncombe said: "It is disgraceful because this is not how these sorts of things should be handled. No one is coming forward from the government to give any clear directives and everyone is left to sit down and worry."

"I have messaged the Minister of Environment and I have not received a response from him," she continued. "How is this allowed to happen? A large quantity of fuel has been lost in our waters and we are still waiting for one clear voice to say, 'ok, this is what happened and here is how we are addressing it.'"

Prior to the 2017 general election, Environmental and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira served as the lead attorney for one of the country's foremost environmental groups, Save the Bays.

His actions at that time propelled him into the national spotlight where he played an integral role in protest action related to the 2014 Marathon Rubis fuel leak - the constituency he now represents in Parliament.

Additionally, the Free National Movement as a party in the lead up to the 2017 general election participated in several environmental protest.

Asked if these actions gave the perception that if elected, the party would give serious focus to environmental matters, Mrs Duncombe on Friday said: "From an environmental point of view, I am somewhat disappointed."

She added: "Don't get me wrong, in my 26-years of doing this, each time you change governments you know you are going to have an up-hill battle. But I didn't expect it to be like this with this group."

"The environment is why people come here. Why are we continuing to abuse our bread and butter?"

"This is a simple matter. What ministry is responsible here and why are they taking so long to respond. It isn't rocket science. Just communicate on the matter and be seen doing something."

Earlier in the week, Mr Ferreira and the Minnis administration came under fire from Bimini residents irate with severe beach erosion.

Mr Ferreira could not be reached for comment.

Comments

Socrates 1 month ago

this is exactly why i have suggested the 'Defence Force' be abolished and reestablished as a Coast Guard to deal with this sort of thing. why the hell do we need a Defence Force?

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croberts6969 1 month ago

I agree. What are we defending against. Counch shells and rocks can only do so much.

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ThisIsOurs 1 month ago

Wonder how many more environmental drop the balls it will take for Dr Minnis to do what he should have done from the time he heard about the swerving car

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

The sad reality is that this barge was floating through international and Bahamian waters for almost a month .......... undetected and unaccounted for by its tug captain, owners, RBDF, Coast Guard or OpBat ............. and secondly, why has this barge when initially detected by concerned Long Islanders allowed to reach land and break up??????? ......... The Commissioner and Police on the island were warned sometime before the barge hit the reef ............This is a travesty beyond words ................... This is a major environmental disaster right now.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

The diesel plume has spread about 5 miles along the coastline and the diesel scent is overwhelming for persons living within that 5 mile radius of the wrecked barge ...... What is the Government, the barge owner and NGOs doing to remediate, clean up and arrest the marine/coastal pollution??????? ........... Long Island cannot absorb anymore crises.

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sheeprunner12 1 month ago

Any tears for us now..................... Mr. Minnis and Mr. Ferreira??????????

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sheeprunner12 4 weeks, 1 day ago

It may be a good thing if Minnis has to ask Frankie to resign because his citizenship is suspect ....... Frankie seems lost as a Minister anyway ....... He just bungled the barge incident in Long Island ........ now we have a real oil mess, thanks to Fumbling Frankie ........ SMT

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alfalfa 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Welcome to the real world. All politicians" talk the talk", to get elected, and never "walk the walk" after being elected. They avoid the problems and citizens who elected them like the plague, have selective memory when it comes to election campaign promises, and do not carry out their ministerial responsibilities. The response in this situation is no different than if under a PLP government, and oil spills along the coast of Long Island are way down on this Governments priority list.

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TalRussell 4 weeks, 1 day ago

Comrades! Where is the sworn-In by the governor general ... Romauld Ferreira, minister of the environment? Romauld, was also sworn-in as the housing minister...but why have a minister to build houses - when the dual portfolio Romauld, has no money even to repair houses, much less construct thousands of low-cost housing? { You couldn't made this one up - even if you tried, and tried again }.

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BahamasForBahamians 4 weeks ago

Where is Rummy Ferreira.

Hubert and Rummy's silence on this is worst than the slimeball Jerome keeping quiet on the Rubis oil spill!

I must say the MP Adrian has been down there assisting where he can on behalf of his people but Hubert and Rummy are DEAD LOST.

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ThisIsOurs 4 weeks ago

ROTFL... first I thought you was one of them island folk who is pronounce tings funny...LOL "Rummy". Why Dr Minnis hasn't reassigned him and Turnquest already is beyond me...

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