Tourism and fishing in Tobago have been affected by the Caribbean oil spill

The leak from an overturned barge in Trinidad and Tobago remains uncovered, according to rescuers, following the discovery of an oil spill.


Nine days after the initial discovery by the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard an oil spillAccording to rescuers and authorities, the escape of an overturned barge remains uncontrolled, causing alarm in Caribbean countries.

The oil spill has spread miles off the country's coast, the area first affected by the incident, prompting authorities to alert Caribbean neighbors including Venezuela and the island of Grenada.

The government of Trinidad said a barge pulled by a tugboat caused the oil spill. However, the details of the incident are unclear, including the nature of the oil leak, the ship's intended destination, the owner and whether any crew members were involved.

“It looks like this will last a few more weeks. I can't just sit back and do nothing,” said Edwin Ramkisson, who makes his living fishing for snapper and salmon in the lowlands on Tobago's Atlantic coast. “I need help cleaning my boat before I head to another port on the Caribbean side.”

The oil slick has reached a depth of about 144 kilometers in the Caribbean Sea and is moving at a speed of 14 kilometers per hour, Tobago's chief secretary Farley Augustine said on Thursday.

Also read: Trinidad and Tobago declares oil spill a 'national emergency'

The local government said the ship's origin was Panama and it was headed to Guyana. However, monitoring service said the barge and tug were seen in satellite photos near the Puerto La Cruz refinery in Venezuela in late January and were en route to St. Vincent and the Grenadines days before the spill.

Venezuelan Oil Minister Pedro Tellechea told reporters on Friday that the ship had “nothing to do with the state-owned PDVSA or the country,” adding that the country was cooperating with Trinidad and Tobago's investigations, including the type of oil.

Granada did not respond to a request for comment.

Augustine said the barge was believed to have been carrying up to 35,000 barrels of fuel oil and the spill has polluted Tobago's beaches, impacted wildlife and tourism and posed a threat to the Scarborough cruise port.

About 2,000 barrels of oil have been collected so far, Tobago Emergency Management Agency chief Allan Stewart said on Friday, adding that the island was lacking protective equipment for volunteers and crews.

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