Oil Spill at SOL in Cay Bay, Government’s indifference is allowing Oil Spills to continue

On Saturday July 17th 2010 at 2pm St. Maarten Pride Foundation received a call from its partner organization Nature Foundation informing the Foundation that an Oil Spill had taken place in the Cay Bay/Cole Bay area. 

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Upon the Foundations’ arrival in Cay Bay the Foundations realized that SOL’s Oil Storage facility was the source of the spill. SOL’s manager Mr. David Antrobus and a staff member were observed making an effort to clean-up the beach and to prevent additional oil from entering the Bay. Based on information received from vessels in the area, concerned Cay Bay residents and an inspection of the Beach it was determined that a significant Oil Spill had taken place sometime during the course of Saturday morning.

Late last month Pride Foundation met with the Fire Department, SOL Antilles, GEBE, the SHTA, Nature Foundation, EPIC and others to discuss Oil-spill response. During the meeting it was agreed upon that those present would seek to work together to prevent oil spills and to mitigate the effects of any spills that may still take place, St. Maarten Pride Foundation is therefore very much disappointed that SOL’s management did not contact the Foundations to inform them of-, and request assistance with clean-up efforts this past Saturday.

The constant Oil Spills at GEBE’s power plant and SOL’s facilities in Cay Bay and the Simpson Bay Lagoon point towards serious infrastructural and organizational problems at both companies. Pride Foundation has repeatedly urged St. Maarten’s major Oil stakeholders to invest in Oil Spill Response material and training for their staff. The necessity of this training on St. Maarten was made appallingly evident some two weeks ago after a large oil spill at GEBE’s power plant in Cay Bay when workers wearing no protective gear of any sort entered the oil filled waters, in attempts to clean the oil, and were subsequently covered in it from head to toe.

Government’s and in particular the Commissioner in charge of Environmental affairs’ apparent indifference and failure to publicly address these matters is allowing the spills to continue.

The Foundation once again urges government to inspect GEBE’s and SOL’s facilities, to require these and similar companies to provide relevant training to their staff and to have sufficient Oil Spill Response material available.

The Foundation also encourages the aforementioned companies to take their corporate responsibilities seriously. Pride Foundation will continue to monitor the situation.

St. Maarten Pride Foundation

Rueben J. Thompson


St. Maarten Pride Foundation