Oil spotted at Bonaire’s East coast, could come from Tobago -local media

By Thomson Reuters Feb 26, 2024 | 4:03 PM

(Reuters) – Oil stains possibly coming from neighboring Tobago have reached the island of Bonaire, local media said on Monday, prompting authorities to begin organizing protection to beaches and mangrove areas.

Since an oil spill from a capsized vessel was first spotted by Trinidad and Tobago’s Coast Guard on Feb. 7, it has blackened the Caribbean nation’s beaches and is threatening other countries, including Grenada and Bonaire, whose main source of revenue is tourism.

Part of Bonaire’s East coast, near Sorobon, is contaminated with oil, according to local newspapers, radio stations and websites, which described “thick slabs of black dirt floating in the sea, much of which was washed up on the beach.”

Posts by Bonaire residents and a radio station on social media showed pictures of stained sand and reefs, and blackened birds at some beaches.

“We expect the oil to continue to wash up on Bonaire over the next two days,” Bonaire Harbor Master Günter Flanegin told local reporters on Monday, adding the oil had not yet been found on the entire East coast.

A similar incident with an oil spill coming from Trinidad happened in 2017. A leak of residual fuel oil from a storage tank at a refinery operated by Trinidad’s state company Petrotrin spilled about 20,000 gallons, which also hit Venezuela’s Los Roques and Isla de Aves islands.

Bonaire’s government did not provide immediate comment. The Dutch minister of Infrastructure’s Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

Bonaire, a Caribbean island in the Leeward Antilles, has not declared an emergency due to the contamination, but officials from the country’s national parks authority said they might need to protect the mangrove-rich area of Lac Bay, the local media said.

(Reporting by Tibisay Romero and Marianna Parraga; Editing by Gary McWilliams)