Oilspill clean-up delay questioned

The National Trust said Friday that government never told it about the Harquail bypass oil leak, and the six-month clean-up delay had caused considerable worry.

‘We are very concerned about this,’ said National Trust General Manager Frank Roulstone. ‘I will consult with the Department of the Environment about the impact and the severity of this.’

Mr. Roulstone said he had viewed the site, adjacent to the George Town Sanitary Landfill.

‘There are (people) there and they appear to be treating the soil and extracting oil, but, to be honest, it’s hard for me to see exactly how much damage has been done,’ he said.

Prior to Hurricane Ivan the landfill was used to store a number of barrels of recycled oil awaiting shipment overseas.

However, Ivan blew the barrels into a nearby dyke, causing some to burst, and leak into the surrounding soil and water.

DoE immediately installed a containment boom and the Department of Environmental Health removed the faulty drums.

However, other barrels remained, gradually rupturing during the ensuing months and leaching their contents.

Last week a three-member team from Texas A&M’s National Spill Control School arrived to clean the site, although progress remains unverified.

‘This is not pristine wetlands or anything,’ Mr. Roulstone said, ‘so I’m not sure what really could be damaged, but I’m no scientist. We need a scientific opinion.’

He expressed particular concern, however, that the contamination has been ongoing for six months. The pace of the official response, he said, remained a mystery.

‘I couldn’t say (why it’s been six months). I didn’t know the site existed, but someone did and I don’t know why they have taken so long.

‘It’s not a very pleasant sight there, and will give you plenty to think about,’ he said.

Mr. Roulstone was additionally worried that the landfill itself appeared to have shifted.

‘It’s a cause for concern that the fill seems to have moved so close, and is now adjacent to the road.

‘I know the Department of Tourism is trying to do something about it, although landfills are always going to be a problem,’ he said.

‘This one, though, looks to be pretty close to the extent of its life, and I’m not sure what they are going to do about it.’

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