Large oil spill at GebePOSTED: 12/2/15 2:18 PM
St. Maarten – There was once again a significant oil spill originating at the Gebe power plant yesterday morning. Staff of the Nature Foundation responded with its vessel Yellow Tail to monitor the situation and asses the environmental impact the spill is having on the marine environment.
Initial assessment found that a large quantity of oil entered into the sea, possibly due to an overflow at the Gebe power plant. The spill stretched for approximately five kilometres in a west south westerly direction, which indicates a large amount of oil was leaked. The oil slick could be seen from the top of Cole Bay Hill stretching to the horizon. Contact was immediately established with the Coast Guard and the Department of Maritime Affairs who are investigating the issue.
The Nature Foundation will be conducting survey dives to determine the extent of the damage and will be monitoring beaches to see if any of the oil washes ashore; “It is very unfortunate that again we are faced with an introduction of a large amount of fuel in the water. These types of spills are serious issues and cause great harm to the environment and to our tourism economy. A report has been sent to the competent authorities and hopefully sanctions are issued to the responsible parties,” Nature Foundation Manager Tadzio Bervoets said in a press statement.
Spilled oil can harm living things because its chemical constituents are poisonous. This can affect organisms both from internal exposure to oil through ingestion or inhalation and from external exposure through skin and eye irritation. Oil can also smother some small species of fish or invertebrates and coat feathers and fur, reducing birds’ and mammals’ ability to maintain their body temperatures.