AN oil sheen has been spotted from aerial observations at the estimated site of a sunken gas tanker, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources said on Friday.
Tar balls have also been spotted near the site.
“On 29th December 2021 a team of officers from the Ministry of Transport and Housing, Port Department, Royal Bahamas Defence Force and the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Department of Environmental Planning and Protection) conducted an aerial site visit to the site of the collision of Tropic Breeze and Utopia IV and the sinking of Tropic Breeze,” the Ministry of Environment said in a press release.
“The purpose of the aerial survey was to ascertain the condition of the environment due to the potential exposure to any oil spill from the sunken vessel and to provide technical advice on remediation of any oil spill. The location of the site is approximately 15 miles north-northwest of New Providence between Whale Cay and the Northwest Passage.
“Aerial observations indicate an oil sheen at the estimated point of the wreck, and tar balls/blobs were observed approximately three miles from the site. The appearance of a small number of tar balls were also observed in the shallow waters along the south-eastern shoreline of Whale Cay.”
The ministry said a team from the RBDF and the Ministry of the Environment and Housing (DEHS and DEPP) conducted a surface investigation on December 30 and located the oil sheen.
“It is noted that (the) wreck is located in approximately 9,400 feet of ocean and that the sheen is affected by ocean currents and heavy seas,” the ministry also said.
“A report on site visits will be produced and more information will be made available.”
The Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources said it will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure the preservation and protection of the natural environment.
The tanker M/T Tropic Breeze was hit at 10.03pm on Christmas Eve by the M/Y Utopia IV, a 207-foot super yacht, approximately 15 miles NNW of New Providence.
A statement issued from Maritime Management LLC, which managed the Tropic Breeze, said the 160-foot tanker was travelling on its proper watch en route to Great Stirrup Cay when it was rear-ended by the yacht.
“The catastrophic force of the collision pierced the stern of the tanker causing the tanker to sink to the ocean floor at an estimated depth of 2,000 feet,” the company said on December 25.
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.”
The Tribune previously reported that the Office of the Attorney General will investigate the environmental liability attached to the incident.