Ministry of Transport say the People of Long Island lie…

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Officials say nothing harms or damaged the water…Grounding of a Cargo Barge near Gray’s Long Island & a RO/RO Vessel at the Government Dock in Staniel Cay, Exuma

Gas Drums in the water.

The Acting Port Controller, Port Department, Ministry of Transport & Local Government, advises the public that on Saturday, October 14th, 2017, at approximately 7:45 pm, the Department was notified that a cargo barge was grounded near Gray’s, Long Island, sometime during the early morning hours that same day.

It was subsequently determined that the non-motorized Cargo Barge (Mariner’s 1) owned by R.R. Caribbean Marine Operators out of Trinidad, had been contracted by Digicel to transport hurricane relief items from Trinidad and Tobago to the Island of Anguilla. While en route to Anquilla, the Tug boat responsible for the transport of the Cargo Barge developed difficulties, resulting in a separation from the Cargo Barge on September 18th, 2017. The Barge found its way to the shores of Long Island on October 14th, 2017, where it became grounded.

On October 15th, 2017, at about 10:05 a.m., a visit to Long Island was organized by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), and a plane owned and operated by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force (RBDF) was used to transport two Incident Management System (IMS) certified governmental representatives to the Island. These representatives included, Mr. Marques Williams, Assistant Port Controller and Mr. Anthony, Ryan, Public Analyst III, of the Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment Division of the Department of Environmental Health Services, Ministry of the Environment and Housing. Also on board the flight were representatives from a local Bahamian Company, Baychem Spill Technologies Limited, a company contracted to facilitate oil spill cleanup. The company was equipped with a number of absorbents (peat sob) and booms.

Prior to landing in Long Island, a fly-by of the grounded Cargo Barge was carried out, and the fly-by showed a barge in distress and a nearby tug boat seeking to lend assistance. The barge was positioned 230 12.91’N and 0750 05.28’W. It was determined that an insignificant amount of diesel oil escaped from oil containers on the grounded vessel, into the water. The public may be assured that the Port Department has been in consistent contact with the owner of the grounded vessel, and has received documented assurances that the company will assume responsibility for all required clean up of the area . Additionally, both the EMRAD Division of DEHS and the Port Department have completed initial reports into the incident, and there is no evidence of any environmental damage to the waters off Gray’s Long Island, or to the shoreline. However, enquiries continue.

Currently, the owner is preparing a salvage team to remove the barge off the shore, and to transport the same for dry dock repairs. While there is a small amount of debris wedged between the barge and the shoreline, there are no oil contaminants on board the stranded vessel, and the owner has provided private security to secure the remaining equipment that is onboard, in accordance with the Port Department’s instructions. The owner has mobilized his own salvage team out of Trinidad to remove the barge, which will be undertaken under the supervision of the Port Department, in accordance with the Port’s Salvage Protocols. The operation is scheduled to commence in approximately ten (10) days time.

Additionally, the Port Department also advises that on Friday 20th October, 2017, at approximately 5:20 pm, a Roll On, Roll Off (RO/RO) motorized vessel, “Island Trader”, owned by Tycoon Management Limited sank at the Government dock in Staniel Cay, Exuma. On Saturday morning 21st, October, Ms. Jade Evans, Assistant Port Controller, flew to Staniel Cay to investigate this incident. According to initial reports, the crew observed while off-loading cargo that water was coming into the vessel from the engine room. It was further reported that efforts to stop the ingress of water were unsuccessful, as the bilge pumps could not handle the amount of water flooding the engine space. This resulted in the vessel sinking at the dock.

The vessel’s owner provided his own salvage team, and around 7 pm, Saturday, the Island Trader was afloat, under the supervision of the Port Department representative. No oil spill was noted during this incident.

The public may be assured that the Port Department will maintain the necessary oversight required with respect to both of these incidents, and will ensure that any additional action required, will be taken. Persons having any enquiries about any of these matters may contact the Acting Port Controller, Captain Cyril Roker, at 376-6032.