Jan Kool, an advisor for Emergency Response Dutch Caribbean and North Sea unit under the Water and Shipping Division of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment arrived on Saba Thursday. He is responsible for the implementation of the OPRC in the Dutch Caribbean (OPRC= International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation) and participated in a public event held in Windwardside that evening when the big Statia oil spill was discussed. Two metric tons of heavy fuel oil from NuStar oil terminal allegedly spilled into the sea due to a ruptured hose.
Saba’s waters and shores have been affected by the oil spill, but Saba’s governor declined any comment stating all response efforts and communication are being coordinated by Statia’s governor. As a result Saba’s Marine Park manager could not publicly release his findings either.
Kool’s presentation provided no additional insights into the ongoing investigation into the much-criticised containment efforts in spite of which some of
the spilled oil reached Saba’s shores. Kool spoke of measures taken by NuStar and about the operational coordination of Statia’s Harbour Master under the final authority of Statia’s Governor.
Kool’s map model showed oil sheen moving towards Saba but did not explain why the response efforts failed to control the spill within 24 hours. He said he understands that Saba’s Harbour Master was only informed of the oil spill, by accident, by Saba Marine Park Manager Kai Wulf at around 8:00 or 9:00am that day. Dive business owner Lynn Costenaro, who attended the meeting, asked why it took citizens like him and not important parties responsible on Statia or Nu-Star to inform the governor of the oil spill, “so that we could have been better prepared.” Kool could not confirm if any protocol was in place that prevented Saba’s Governor Jonathan Johnson from taking emergency measures in Saba’s waters.
Kool stated that Statia coordinated the response team along its coastline and between Statia and Saba, and Dutch Marine Coast Guard took the lead.” He said the impact for the Saba Bank will “probably be very low as the oil will float.” He also said the ministry made available to the islands some response equipment
including coastline cleanup materials. He assured that later on a cleanup assistance station would be set up on Saba.
Asked if he was aware that a fisherman’s boat apparently caused the incident, Kool could not confirm. Members of the audience challenged the official estimates about the amount of oil discharged into the sea, but Kool said there was no basis for contesting the estimate.
Source: The Daily Herald, October 27, 2012