NASSAU, The Bahamas — With the probability of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico from an uncapped underwater well until possibly August, the Bahamian Oil Spill Committee projects changing winds to move the flowing oil toward the Western Bahamas.
“The Government has adopted a very serious approach with the oil spill and realised we have to bring in experts,” said Eric Carey, Spokesman for the Oil spill Contingency Committee.
“We went to the International Maritime Authority and the BMA [Bahamas Maritime Authority] put in a request by letter to the IMO. They have responded with two experts here today. These experts will lead the development of a response strategy for The Bahamas.”
The IMO experts will report to Captain Patrick O’Neil with their recommendations of how The Bahamas needs to prepare for this pending threat. They are looking at protecting the Biminis, the west end of Grand Bahama and the Northern Abaco Cays.
“We’re still not seeing oil in large amounts in Florida, so it gives us a little bit more time to continue our preparation,” said Mr. Carey.
“We’ve completed our assessment to Cay Sal and we have a preliminary report on that expedition. It’s telling us we need to conduct other assessments all along the western fringe of the coastline of The Bahamas.”
The Committee has already identified Dr. Ethan Fried to lead qualified persons at the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to train for clean up exercises. Civilian volunteers are also welcomed to join.
Representatives from the Bahamas National Trust, the Nature Conservancy, the Port Department, Environmental Health Services, and other agencies will be taking part in training to acquire skills in basic sampling protocols.
“We’re also starting to conduct training and we realise that while some Hazmat expertise is available in the country, we need to have a team of people, hundreds or maybe thousands, around the archipelago to conduct basic sampling,” said Mr. Carey.
“As this oil event continues in the Gulf, we need to continue to have very credible samples.”
Scientists will use the sample gathering to present a timeline to an arbitration committee. The timeline will measure the progression of the disaster with evidence of normalcy.
“If in the future The Bahamas is going to claim to some international litigation process, that the Gulf oil disaster is responsible for effects we see on tourism, fisheries resources, blue holes or other water resources, then we will have to prove that these people were properly trained,” said Mr. Carey.