A 100 meter long boat, still unidentified, has been releasing oil since Thursday after a shipwreck. The Prime Minister of the Caribbean archipelago declared a state of emergency on Sunday February 11.
Coasts soiled and state of emergency declared. The oil spill affecting Trinidad and Tobago after the sinking of an unidentified ship is still not “not under control”, and this while the Caribbean archipelago is experiencing the first hours of its tourist season linked to carnival. An ecological and economic disaster, therefore. “Cleaning and rehabilitation can only begin when the situation is under control. For the moment, it is not, declared Prime Minister Keith Rowley during a press briefing on Sunday February 11.
Divers continue to try to plug the leaking vessel, a 100-meter-long, still-unidentified, unflagged boat named Gulfstream. No emergency call was sent by the crew on the day of the sinking. There are no signs of life there, according to the Tobago Disaster Management Agency… Initially, it was supposed to transport sand and wood. The boat, which capsized off the Cove eco-industrial park in southern Tobago, was swept ashore by currents.
“Only the keel is visible”
Since Thursday, hundreds of volunteers have been working to try to contain the progression of the thick oil stain, but that is not enough. Around 15 km of coastline are affected on Tobago, one of the two islands of this Caribbean oil country of 1.4 million inhabitants, close to Venezuela. In addition to affecting the local ecosystem, the oil spill also threatens vital tourism revenue. Trinidad and Tobago is preparing to welcome thousands of tourists for the carnival season. However, many tourist complexes and hotels in Tobago, such as the Magdalena Grand, are affected.
The government therefore appealed for more people to join the volunteers. Authorities also asked tourists not to approach contaminated areas. Barriers were deployed for approximately 15 kilometers to allow boats to arrive at the port of Scarborough, the capital of Tobago.
“We were unable to identify the ship by name […] nor by its registration number”, Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Farley Augustine, told reporters. “We don’t know who owns this boat. We have no idea where it came from, nor do we know what’s in it, insisted Keith Rowley, without excluding that the boat could have been used for trafficking. We do not know if it is a cargo ship, an oil tanker or a barge because only the keel is visible and its physical elements allowing it to be identified are underwater, in an inaccessible place for the moment.