Trinidad-Tobago declares ‘national emergency’ over oil spill

Trinidad and Tobago finds itself grappling with a severe environmental crisis as an unidentified vessel, now partially submerged, leaks hydrocarbons off the southwest coast of Tobago.

Oil spill clean up on the way

Prime Minister Keith Rowley has declared the situation a  “national emergency,” pledging governmental resources to address the unfolding catastrophe.

The spill, which has already tainted several beaches along Tobago’s southwest shoreline, remains a daunting challenge as authorities scramble to identify the vessel’s owner and ascertain the extent of the spill.

Rowley, addressing the media at a press conference, expressed uncertainty regarding the volume of oil leaked and the contents still trapped within the capsized vessel.

Oil spill in the harbor

” This unknown vessel has drifted into Tobago, but its origins and ownership remain a mystery,” Rowley stated. “We are unaware of its contents and the circumstances leading to its overturning,”he added.

Highlighting the severity of the situation, Rowley voiced concerns about potential illicit activities associated with the operation. “The vessel could have been involved in any number of operations, including illicit ones,” he cautioned.

Efforts to contain the leak have proven challenging, with divers struggling to mitigate the environmental impact and devise strategies for oil removal.

Farley Augustine, Chief Secretary of Tobago’s House of Assembly, acknowledged the ongoing difficulties in controlling the spill.

Will the mangroves live

Acknowledging the financial burden of cleanup and restoration efforts, Rowley emphasized the need for swift and decisive action.

“This is a national emergency and extraordinary measures must be taken,” he asserted.

“Funding will be prioritized to address this crisis, despite the significant costs incurred thus far,” he said.

However, Rowley tempered expectations, cautioning that full-scale cleanup and restoration efforts can only commence once the situation is brought under-control.

Oil spill on the Atlantic side of the island threatens tourism

“We must first gain control of the situation before we can begin the arduous task of cleaning and restoring our coastlines,” he emphasized. “While the situation remains challenging, we are confident in our ability to manage it effectively.”

As Trinidad and Tobago grapple with the aftermath of this environmental disaster, the government remains committed to mitigating the spill’s impact and safeguarding the nation’s coastal ecosystems.

Oil spill

With the identity of the vessel still shrouded in mystery, authorities face a race against time to contain the spill and minimize its devastating consequences on Tobago’s pristine beaches and marine life.