Oil spill off Seven Mile Beach

The Department of Environment was investigating an oil slick which was spotted off Grand Cayman’s western coastline Thursday afternoon.

Oil Spill

Sections of Elgin Avenue and Bobby Thompson Way were closed off Thursday afternoon when a 55 gallon drum dropped off the back of a truck, spilling some oil onto the Elgin roundabout. Department of Environmental Health crews mopped up the spill while police routed traffic around the area. Photo: Brent Fuller

The slick, estimated to be 150 feet in diameter, was spotted by an aircraft about one to two miles west of the Royal Palms along Seven Mile Beach.

Chief Marine Enforcement Officer Mark Orr said two boats were sent into the sea to search for the slick.

After about 40 minutes, Mr Orr said traces of oil were found off Public Beach which appeared to be the remnants of a small diesel spill. The slick was about 10 feet by 30 feet and had a rainbow sheen colour, indicating that the slick was very thin.

Crews also found two additional traces of diesel approximately 2.5 miles west-northwest of Public Beach. Both slicks were small and quite thin. Mr. Orr said all of the slicks were being pushed away from shore and would not affect the coast.

DoE official said there would be no attempt at a clean-up since the slicks are too thin to be recovered. The source of the spill was not immediately known.

The Department of Environment notes light distilled oils such as diesel and gasoline are more toxic than heavier oils. However, they often evaporate quickly or are broken up by the waves.

Officials said once an oil slick reaches a thin rainbow sheen it is nearly impossible to recover with absorbent pads or skimmers.

DOE said it has the equipment to chemically disperse oil, but this is never used for light distilled products such as diesel fuel.