On 12th March, the NGO Fishermen and Friends of the Sea (FFOS) reported an oil spill at the Port of Port of Spain, in Trinidad. The NGO said that when it visited the area, there was a dense concentration of oil around the Port of Spain Harbour near to an industrial barge. Eye witness also reported that the oil came from this barge.
After the oil spill, the local Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) is taking samples to determine the guilty party. In addition, Trinidad’s government pledged that the company responsible for the spill will be held responsible for all clean-up costs.
However, Fishermen and Friends of the Sea says that the government has not taken such actions for similar incidents in the past. It specifically said that:
Because our laws are poorly regulated and enforced it is much cheaper to dump waste oil rather than to treat and dispose of it properly. Regularly there are deliberate discharges of oil into our marine waters, (often at our ports) and even though the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is called upon to investigate these disasters, the culprits are never held accountable
The NGO reminded of another oil spill that took place on October 16, 2017, in Chaguaramas. Then, Minister Franklyn Khan had stated that there would be ‘civil and criminal prosecution’, but as of now there has not been an update on whether the culprits were ever prosecuted.
In addition, according to the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan (NOSCP), the Institute of Marine Affairs (IMA) maintain a database of all oil on all ships that are sailing in Trinidad’s waters. Nonetheless, FFOS claims that IMA has not done this, as if it had it would have found the culprits immediately.
Another issue that has emerged regards oil booms. The NOSCP mandates that oil booms must be strategically placed around the spill to prevent the spread of the hydrocarbon. However, images show that the booms were placed around other nearby vessels to prevent the oil from damaging them.
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