By EARYEL BOWLEG
Tribune Staff Reporter
ACTIVIST Joe Darville has called for more information from authorities about the potential environmental impact a sunken gas tanker will have on the seabed.
The tanker sank off the coast of New Providence on Friday after it was “rear-ended” by a 207-foot super yacht.
According to a statement from Maritime Management LLC, which managed the tanker M/T Tropic Breeze, the vessel was hit at 10.03pm on Christmas Eve by the M/Y Utopia IV about 15 miles NNW of New Providence.
The company said the tanker’s cargo included all “non-persistent materials” – LPG, marine gas and automotive gas – “all of which are lighter than water and will evaporate if exposed to surface air.”
However, the chairman of the Save the Bays has raised questions about this.
“I’m amazed at this particular point after days of the sinking of that particular tanker that we haven’t had an update from any agencies with respect to exactly what impact it is having on our precious environment,” Mr Darville said.
“Now that idea that it’s going to dissipate. It’s going to dissipate where? It’s going to dissipate in and around our coral reef. It’s going to dissipate on our seabed and the sea grass which is a feeding ground for numerous marine species, including turtles, etc, and you know we’re taking it too nonchalantly,” Mr Darville told The Tribune yesterday.
“I am appalled that we have not been provided with adequate information with respect to first of all how it happened; how is it being monitored; is the Defence Force out monitoring the situation? All of these things should be made known to the Bahamian people. That’s our seabed. That’s our ocean. It doesn’t belong to the government or any other entity that may have used it accidentally or otherwise. To say that it’s going to dissipate naturally, etc, that’s a bunch of foolishness.
“It might dissipate, it’s comparable to the oil situation spillage… that dissipated, that went into our forest and today we still don’t know what our country got as a compensation for the devastation of thousands and thousands of acres of our pine forest.”
He was referring to the Equinor oil spill in Grand Bahama in 2019.
Regarding the gas tanker, the Ministry of Transport and Housing said the Attorney General’s Office has been consulted for legal guidance on the incident.
“The Port Department has begun a formal investigation into the incident, and the Department of Environmental Health is also conducting a review of the environmental impact. These activities are currently underway,” the ministry said.
In its statement released on Monday, the Ministry of Transport also said it was made aware of the collision between the yacht Utopia IV and the gas tanker Tropic Breeze, which resulted in “damage to both vessels and injuries to several crew members”.
“The Royal Bahamas Defence Force was informed of the incident and dispatched the P-125 to assist,” the ministry said. “Shortly after, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force was informed that the crew of the Utopia IV was being assisted by a passing vessel, the Amara.”
The statement said that after the collision, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force received a report from the Utopia IV that the vessel was taking on water and was making its way to Prince George Wharf.
The Harbour Patrol Unit was promptly informed and dispatched the P-40 vessel to assist. The Utopia IV arrived at Prince George Wharf at 1.26am on December 25 escorted by the P-40, the statement said.