Clean-up work continues at historic oil spills

Three ‘significant’ fuel spills took place from 1998-2001 at the the Jackson Point fuel terminal. - Photo: james Whittaker

Rubis is continuing clean-up work on several major fuel spills that occurred in Cayman over the last 21 years.

According to a January report from the Water Authority made public earlier this month, clean-up work has occurred at two spill sites: the Jackson Point fuel terminal, where three “significant” fuel spills took place from 1998-2001; and a former Rubis service station on Shedden Road, where a major spill was discovered in 2016.

The three spills from 1998-2001 happened when the site was known as the Texaco Jackson Point fuel terminal. Texaco and later Chevron worked to clean up the site over the years – “applying various technologies” to the area – and Rubis continued remediation when it took over the operations, according to the Water Authority report.

Rubis’s work consists of active remediation of the spills at the terminal and collection of environmental data, the report states.

“Rubis has submitted a ‘no further action’ request as the historical spills at the terminal have been remediated to such an extent that they do no longer pose a risk to environmental and public health,” the report notes. “The Authority is considering accepting the request.”

The spill at the Rubis station on Shedden Road was discovered during geotechnical investigations for the Cricket Square development, the report states. The property had been acquired by the Flowers Group for construction of the new office at Cricket Square, the report states.

“To limit impacts on the construction schedule, it was essential that the impacted site was remediated as quick as possible. Once it was clear that the spill related to the service station, Rubis took immediate action,” the report states, adding, “Rubis closed down the service station, demolished it and conducted an aggressive remediation of the site.”

According to the Water Authority, the clean-up work at the site consisted of removing a large volume of fuel-impacted soil for remediation off-site. The impacted groundwater was remediated on site with a specialised wastewater treatment system.

“A network of monitoring wells was installed to verify the effect of the remediation, and the data collected from the wells indicate that the Authority’s goals for the remediation have been met,” the report states. The Water Authority did not immediately respond to a Cayman Compass inquiry about whether the authority has made any decisions on Rubis’ “no further action” requests since releasing its report.

Meanwhile, the Water Authority has accepted that “no further action” is required at a 2016 spill at the Owen Roberts International Airport fuel aviation terminal.

That spill was reported by Rubis in March 2016, about nine months before the fuel aviation terminal at the airport was decommissioned for the airport redevelopment project.

“The impacted area was excavated and both groundwater and soil were remediated,” the Water Authority report states. “[Consultants] carried out further environmental monitoring of the site, which confirmed that the site did meet the Authority’s remediation criteria.

“Rubis submitted a ‘no further action’ request in October 2018. In December 2018 the Authority accepted the ‘no further action’ request.”

1 COMMENT

  1. I live close to the oil terminals and do not recollect a major fuel spill at what is now the Rubis terminal, back in 1998-2001 What exactly happened, how much fuel was spilt and exactly what had been done to remove the fuel. If the leak occurred over a prolonged period before it was discovered, then serious contamination of the surrounding soil and the water table would have occurred.
    Rubis refers to “active remediation and collection of data” at the terminal site, but no mention of removal of soil for treatment as at the other two locations as presumably this would have been expensive with the fuel tanks involved.
    It seems after 18 years Rubis has still not received the all clear from the Water Authority and the public have been kept in the dark. Can we please have some answers as to exactly what happened at the terminal and why it has taken so long to remediate compared with the spill that affected the Flowers Group.