Island Governor Gerald Berkel confirmed that approximately 170 and 200 litres of oil were released during two separate incidents at NuStar Statia Terminal on June 12 and August 2, writes The Daily Herald. Governor Berkel, who as local Chief of Police is also responsible for the handling of environmental incidents, stated in a press release Monday that no safety regulations were breached during the incidents.
Organisations such as Statia Safe and Sound and individuals had been very critical about the fact that authorities, such as Governor Berkel, Commissioner Carlyle Tearr and the Harbour Master, as well as St. Eustatius National Parks Stenapa had remained mum about the spillages and had not provided any information. Berkel said Monday that NuStar had reported an incident on June 12 which had taken place within the Terminal compound, resulting in a release of approximately 170 litres of fuel oil, caused by a failure in a flexible pipe joint assembly. “As this failure took place within the confines of the lower tank area, the released materials were contained within the tank’s safety catchment and clean-up protocols were initiated. The failed assembly was replaced and operations resumed while the cause of failure of the flexible joint assembly was investigated,” the Governor said.
On August 2, at approximately 7:20am, Nustar personnel reported observing sheen in the water near the main jetty at Tumble Down Dick Bay and activated the response protocol, according to Governor Berkel. These measures, the Governor said, included a shutdown of all shore-to-ship transfer operations, notification of responsible local and national authorities, commencement of containment operations and clean-up activity and an investigation into the cause of incident. According to the Governor, the investigation into the cause of this incident revealed that the source of the oil release was land-based, which subsequently partially seeped into the water surrounding the shoreline. “Excavation and testing in the affected area further proved the source of the release to be a failure in a 12-inch subterranean pipeline. Clean-up activity of the approximately 200 litres, (a portion of which seeped into the waters) has been successful with a few small visible traces remaining. Continued monitoring of the coastline in the affected area continues to ensure no further seepage into the surrounding waters while the root cause analysis of the incident is ongoing,” Governor Berkel stated.
After the oil spill of October 20, 2012, the Department of Waterways of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment said it would take unspecified measures if NuStar would again violate stipulations in its permit before February 1, 2014. The Department had been quite critical of NuStar’s response to this incident, which it described as: “too little and too late.”
Pending the final reports, Governor Berkel concluded “at this stage” that parties have acted in accordance to regulations contained in the stipulations of the operational permits. “While any release is regrettable and all efforts are made to avoid such incidents, prompt action and cooperation between all entities involved are focused on reducing the risk to man and environment. As we continue to be vigilant and monitor the industrial activities at NuStar the aforementioned incidents indicate that the established agreements and regulations are effective and will continue to serve as a basis for future improvements,” the Governor concluded.