“Let me warn fisherfolk, those with vessels, those with jet skis, swimmers, whomever, please avoid the area as much as possible. Don’t go purposefully sightseeing and sailing into the area. It’s not an opportunity to go sightseeing isn’t an opportunity to go being more cautious. Please be cautious and avoid the area.”
On February 7, 2024, a ship was spotted near the Caribbean islands of Tobago and Trinidad. The ship is visually identified as Gulfstream but can’t be located in international records. According to local reports on Twitter, the ship is believed to have been carrying sand and wood (though no wood has been located). The ship ran aground and capsized. No one was found on board, suggesting it was abandoned. A massive oil leak resulted. Oil has contaminated nearby reefs, beaches, and even major island roads.
Tobago’s coral reefs are in extreme danger from global heating. The oil spill could be the dagger in the heart of their corals and the marine life that depends on them.
Tobago’s economy is highly dependent on tourism, and its fisheries play a substantial part in the overall food security – both of which are now significantly affected.
Eco-tourism is a major draw. All of these marine treasures are threatened or dead.
Carnival was scheduled for today and has not been canceled so far. The vomit-inducing stench from spilled petroleum surrounding the islands will be repugnant.
Tourists will not party today; in the future, tourism will decline if not stopped altogether. These islands will not have local fish to eat, and their economy will collapse. Scuba and snorkeling operators, fishermen, and restaurants can not stay in business in a tourist economy with lasting catastrophic ecological damage.
According to the link below, winds have shifted, resulting in additional oil covering areas of the island that have yet to be Impacted.
Read the link from TTWeather Center. Local media has the best information and maps that I have seen:
Requests for foreign assistance have yet to be enacted. Tobago does have a plan and equipment to deal with oil spills?
It is just another environmental catastrophe to be ignored by all the world’s sheep silently going into the slaughterhouse.
From the BBC:
Some 1,000 volunteers have now joined government staff to clean up the spill.
Divers have been trying to isolate the leak from the vessel, which was abandoned by its crew.
Farley Augustine, the chief secretary of the island of Tobago, on Saturday said the government may designate the accident a Level 3 disaster, the highest.
"Everything indicates that we are going in that direction," he was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
The spill is currently Level 2, meaning the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management believes that the country can deal with the spill.
A national emergency is declared when local resources become "overwhelmed" and international assistance is needed.
The ship - identified only as The Gulfstream - capsized last Wednesday off the coast of the Cove Eco-Industrial Estate.
No emergency calls were made.
“The spill has not been contained. What is happening is, from the professional commercial divers’ point of view, the vessel is in a peculiar area. It cannot be entirely contained. The boat keeps bobbing up and down. We did our best to contain as much as we can. With regard to plugging it, that may not be possible.”
“We have some eco-sensitive areas along that [coast]line, including Kilgwyn Bay, the Magdalena Petit Trou, and the Lambeau Beach area. There are a lot of reefs along that site.
The island of Tobago is facing a massive environmental crisis due to an oil spill originating from a sunken ship. The situation has led authorities to consider declaring the incident as a level three disaster, the most severe on the emergency management scale.- Origin of the Disaster:The disaster began on February 7, 2024, when a capsized ship was reported near the coast. The vessel, visually identified as "Gulfstream," though not matching any international records, is believed to have been carrying wood and sand. Efforts to contain the spill have been complicated by the ongoing oil leak, which has already severely impacted beaches and even reached main roads. Divers inspecting the ship reported damage to the nearby reef and found no signs of life on board, suggesting that the vessel may have been abandoned.- Response and Containment Measures:The government of Tobago, along with agencies such as the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), has launched a massive cleanup operation. Containment barriers and cleanup teams have been deployed in an effort to mitigate the environmental impact of the spill. To date, 67 people are working on cleanup tasks on the affected beaches.- Impact on the Community and Environment:The situation has raised deep concerns among fishermen and tour operators on the island, fearful of the effects on their livelihoods and Tobago's tourism reputation. The pollution not only poses a risk to marine life but also to the local community's food security. Additionally, there is fear that cruise ships may choose to avoid Tobago's waters due to the contamination.- Call for International Help:Given the magnitude of the challenge, the Chief Secretary of the Tobago Assembly, Farley Augustine, has expressed that it might be necessary to request international assistance to address the consequences of the spill. Meanwhile, cleanup continues, and the situation is constantly evaluated to determine the next steps to be taken.
Update from the Weather Center:
In a cruel repeat of history, Tobago is facing another oil spill-related environmental disaster 44 years after the fifth-largest oil spill on record occurred 18 kilometers east of the island. This latest spill, however, is still shrouded in mystery nearly five days after a thick, black oil-like substance began to wash up on Tobago’s shores. There have been no reports of injuries or fatalities as a result of the overturned ship or subsequent spill at this time.
In their dive on Friday, the team made some new discoveries. Douglas said, “We also observe that there is a debris trail on the water that suggests that the vessel was turned over even before it made contact with the reef. The superstructure of the vessel was torn off. There were cranes, arms and railings all the way, and there’s a lot of destruction in that area.”
He also added, “We also found a cable that is connected to the bow of the vessel. That also suggests that the vessel may have been in tow because the anchor is secured where it’s at. But there is a huge tow line, approximately a third of the length of the vessel.”
The dive team also noted that the vessel was being pushed into the reef and still leaking the oil-like substance.
By Friday, Stuart Young, Minister of Energy and Energy Industry, and Rohan Sinanan, Minister of Works and Transport, had visited Tobago. Heritage Petroleum engaged subject matter experts from Health Safety Security and Environment (HSSE), logistics and field operations, with decades of experience in safely and efficiently managing hydrocarbon spills to head to Tobago to support clean-up operations on the island. The ODPM, with assistance from the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force (TTDF), provided a number of Tyvek suits, hazmat bins, reflective vests, wheelbarrows, shovels, pitchforks, goggles, steel-toe boots, collapsible barrels, and roll polythene to the TEMA.