Tug Boat Towing Barge to Guyana Involved in Trinidad Oil Spill: Says Trinidad National Security Minister

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The submerged vessel lodged on a reef off the coast of Tobago

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO — A tug boat towing a barge from Panama bound for Guyana was involved in the oil spill incident off Tobago — and the wrecked barge, which is leaking the oil, is now sinking, according to a Trinidad Guardian report.

The news report said the Trinidad Government has now called in top international maritime security investigators I.R. Consilium to support local and regional effforts to identify the vessels and their owners.

National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds, according to the Guardian, confirmed this on Wednesday in response to Guardian Media queries on the issue.

After the oil-leaking vessel was detected last Wednesday lodged on a reef off Tobago’s coast, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley last Sunday said the vessel – unknown up to then – had apparently drifted upside down into Tobago’s littoral zone and appeared to be broken.
Oil from the 90-metre, largely submerged vessel befouled coastlines from Scarborough to Lowlands. Containment and clean-up was launched by the Tobago House of Assembly and government agencies.

The UNC and NTA subsequently slammed Government on the breach of security systems with the vessel’s entry into T&T waters. The IDA and UNC called for Government to make the vessel’s owners pay for damage caused to T&T and NGO Fishermen and Friends of the Sea questioned its origin, the crisis management and other issues.

Hinds said investigations were still ongoing.

“But in terms of the vessel’s origin, we’re in a far better position now than last week. All resources available to us locally and internationally are being used in this matter,” he was quoted as saying.

Hinds was reported as saying locally, the T&T Coast Guard (TTCG), Maritime Services Division and National Coastal Surveillance Radar Centre Radar are investigating the matter.