Worth considering

Worth considering

Quick action thankfully averted a more serious environmental disaster on Wednesday, when utilities provider GEBE experienced an oil spill at its plant in Cay Bay (see Thursday newspaper). The oily substance made its way to the shoreline and into the sea, reportedly stretching several hundred metres towards Simpson Bay.

However, the government-owned company had quickly notified St. Maarten Nature Foundation and the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard. With the help of fuel distributor Sol Antilles NV they were to contain and partially clean up the spill.

Its impact on ecosystems was thus significantly mitigated, but the mention of further collaboration to build higher capacity on future responses should not remain just talk. Apart from the need to protect nature, beaches and coastal waters are of vital important to the local tourism economy.

Mishaps can always occur, but in addition to disaster management preventing such should be a priority. This case regarded an overflowing settling tank in the fuel farm, causing excess oil to cascade into the surrounding areas and reach the coast via storm drains.

The latter begs the question whether more cannot be done to reduce the chance of a repeat in the near future. That answer is probably best left up to petrochemical engineers and other relevant experts, but perhaps something simple like a bigger, secure run-off basin is worth considering.


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