By JADE RUSSELL
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder said yesterday the company responsible for last summer’s Exuma oil spill will face penalties.
Mr Pinder made these comments when asked about the diesel spill that occurred in Exuma last July. The incident resulted in 35,000 gallons of diesel being spilled into waters off an Exuma bay as a vessel contracted by Sun Oil was offloading fuel to Bahamas Power and Light at George Town.
He said: “They will absolutely see penalties. We prepared our litigation materials, we’ve conducted all of the interviews, and received all of the reports. We are prepared to file a civil action.”
The owners of the vessel have recently reached out to the government regarding the upcoming fines, Mr Pinder told reporters.
“The owners of the vessel have approached the government recently and started engaging in negotiations regarding the appropriate fines. We have a fine analysis that we would have done. A lot of the fines under our environmental laws are dependent on the environmental damage that was done,” the senator added.
Following the incident, multiple Cabinet ministers and government officials raced to Exuma to assess the site of the oil spill and its impact.
In a statement, Sun Oil confirmed that the vessel MT Arabian, owned by D&T Shipping, discovered a leak during the discharging process and activated its crisis management protocol shortly afterwards.
Despite concerns by local environmentalists on the long term effects the spill could possibly cause, Mr Pinder said “minimal” environmental damage was reported by the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection along with the Department of Environmental Health Services as a result of cleanup efforts at the site.
He continued: “So you have to take that into context, when you look at the fines that we have to levy under the legislation. But needless to say, whether it be through litigation or whether it be through negotiation, fines will be paid to the government of The Bahamas for spilling oil in Exuma.”
In terms of penalties for the Onego Traveller ship that sank with heavy fuel on board off Abaco in December, Mr Pinder said officials are still awaiting final reports.
“We’re still awaiting final reports from the Department of Environmental Planning and Protection and the Department of Environmental Health Services. That ship is still there, and we have issued an order for it to be removed from The Bahamas.”
He said the government gave the ship’s owner 45 days to remove it from Abaco waters.
Mr Pinder added: “They are undertaking the efforts, the salvage company to remove it from The Bahamas. Once the ship is removed, then we get a full environmental report and assessment to assess the damage that may have been done from an environmental point of view. And at that time, is when we pursue action to enforce our rights against fines with respect to the Abaco oil spill.”
On January 11, the Transport and Housing Ministry said remediation efforts of the sunken Onego Traveller ship off Abaco were continuing, adding 3,119 tons of steel coils and 4,505 tons of Ferix in bulk remained submerged.
The ministry said that steps to address the sunken cargo ship were still active.
On December 29, 2022, Onego Traveller sank with heavy fuel onboard.
The general cargo ship registered in Antigua and Barbuda, built in 2002, reportedly began taking on water in the ballast water tank area near Hole in the Wall, off South Abaco.
Sickened 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Let me guess... any information about the fine will be confidential so we will never know the amount or whether or not it is actually paid.
BMW 1 month, 2 weeks ago
You hit the nail on the head!!!! We will never know.
themessenger 1 month, 2 weeks ago
Who are the principals and beneficial owners of D&T shipping and the tanker MT Arabian?
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