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Shipwreck causes oil spill off Edinboro coast

Shipwreck causes oil spill off  Edinboro coast

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Students of the Dr J.P. Eustace Memorial Secondary School returned to their classrooms today, after having been sent home last Friday, because of noxious fumes in the area.{{more}}

The fumes emanated from diesel, discharged from an old ship which sank last week, just off the Edinboro coast, in the Kingstown Bay.

When contacted yesterday, director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) Howie Prince said while the discharge has stopped, the situation is still being monitored on a regular basis, by the local Coastguard.

A release from NEMO, dated September 6, stated, “…sometime last night, an old ship sank in the Kingstown harbour. Early this morning, diesel began floating up from the vicinity where the ship sank. The diesel discharge is adversely affecting the Edinboro area…”

According to the release, NEMO put in place a task force to deal with containing and cleaning up the spill in the area. The task force includes personnel from oil companies SOL and Rubis; the Coastguard; the public health division; the traffic department and fire service of the local constabulary; the department of maritime administration and the Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA).

“We have cleaned up the beach and we have sent away samples of it for evaluation through the oil companies,” Prince told SEARCHLIGHT.

Prince said that the Dr J. P. Eustace school remained closed to students and teachers yesterday, so that it could be fumigated.

On Friday, some persons in the area were observed using bandannas to cover their faces, while officials of the public health department, Coastguard and NEMO assessed what had taken place.

Seventeen students, three teachers and two residents were treated and later discharged from the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the release said.

Prince, however, added that villagers are already using the beach again.

“People are back to their normal use of the place…, but we continue to monitor the situation to see whether or not any more oil comes out.”

According to Prince, it was difficult to send divers to investigate the matter, when it is not clear, what exactly is the situation.

“We can’t put people’s lives in danger. We have to watch it first of all to be sure. It started before we could send divers down.

Prince said soon, the SVG Port Authority would be involved to determine what will happen to the wreck.

“We have done what we could in the immediate face of what was happening. Now other state agencies have to take over the follow-up in terms of what is happening.

Kelly-Ann Neverson, who lives just opposite the school, said she was not at home, but was told by her brother that when they got up, there was a smell of gas in the area.

“My mom thought one of the children was using something with kerosene, but when they went outside, the scent was so strong, they couldn’t tell where it was coming from,” she told SEARCHLIGHT in an interview last Friday.

Neverson indicated that almost everyone in her family is asthmatic and had to go elsewhere because of the fumes.

“There’s a lot children around here. What do they do if they have nowhere to go? The Port Authority should have done something to that boat a long time ago. Why would you have diesel in a boat on the water for so long? Port Authority needs to take some kind of responsibility for this,” Neverson said.

When contacted yesterday, Neverson confirmed that the smell had gone and people had used the beach over the weekend. (KW)

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