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Bahamas launches investigation into latest oil spill

Published:Wednesday | January 23, 2013 | 12:00 AM

The Bahamas government says it has launched an investigation into an oil spill on the weekend even as Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett said that the spill had been contained.

Dorsett said that more than 200 gallons of fuel had been released into the sea at the Freeport Harbour due to an incident involving an overflow of light diesel from the bunker barge Smit Inesita to the Mt Butterfly.

"All ships documentation and procedures will be reviewed to ascertain the volume of oil discharged and to determine the root cause of the incident," the Ministry of Transport and Aviation said in a statement.

It warned that "sanctions will follow" if the spill contravenes the Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) Act.

"The protection of the marine environment is crucial to the growth and development of The Bahamas," said the ministry.

The Bahamas is highly dependent on tourism.

Dorsett said the immediate concern of the authorities was to contain the movement of the spilled fuel, and praised the various emergency teams for dealing with the situation expeditiously.

"The public is advised that there is a protocol for dealing with oil spills, and preliminary findings indicated that those established procedures were followed."

Last month, authorities said they were able to contain a leak from a Mediterranean Shipping Company vessel, The Eugenia, after it left the Freeport harbour with an estimated 3,000 barrels of oil onboard.