Oil spill affects Cienfuegos Bay
CUBA STANDARD — Putting to the test Cuban emergency response systems
developed since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico
three years ago, a fuel oil spill has affected Jagua Bay. The spill has
been contained, official media reported Wednesday in a sparsely worded
The fuel leaked into the bay from a boiler at a local pediatric
hospital, according to AIN. The official report didn’t say what caused
the spill, nor how much fuel oil ended up in the water. According to its
postal address, the Hospital Provincial Pediátrico Paquito González
Cueto is located near the historical center of Cienfuegos, nearly half a
mile from the Bay.
It is too early to quantify the spill or assess the direct damage to sea
fauna and flora, an official with the Ministry of Science, Technology
and Environment (CITMA) said, according to AIN.
Jagua Bay — home to the Port of Cienfuegos and the island’s largest
refinery, as well as an expanding cluster of petrochemical plants — is
vulnerable to a major spill as supertankers frequently enter and exit
the narrow mouth of the Bay, to unload crude. The Venezuelan-Cuban joint
venture that operates the refinery has proposed an offshore supertanker
terminal linking to the plant on the Bay via an undersea pipeline.
The emergency response at Jagua Bay involved various entities, including
from the local refinery and CITMA. Experts from the Camilo Cienfuegos
refinery, currently undergoing a billion-dollar expansion, used 200
meters of containment booms and oil-absorbing blankets to stop expansion
of the oil film and prevent “dirtying of ship hulls,” AIN quoted a
A pressure cleaning of the “grid” has diminished the quantity of fuel
oil spilling into the Bay, the article said, without explaining what
pipes were involved in the spill, why oil continues to leak, or what the
responders did with the contaminated water from the cleaning. In a next
step, the oil will be extracted from the Bay, “according to
environmental regulations,” to then be “burned ecologically,” AIN quoted
the expert. The CITMA official said that fuel oil that has already
settled on the bottom of the Bay cannot be extracted.
The reports didn’t say what kind of fuel oil was involved.
According to AIN, this was the third emergency involving the boilers of
the children’s hospital.
In the run-up of major offshore exploration projects and in response to
the Deepwater Horizon disaster, Cuba has been assisted by experts from
Venezuela and Brazil to create spill prevention and emergency response
systems in offshore oil drilling.
In 2010, Cienfuegos hosted an international oil safety conference.
Presentations at that conference were about an early warning system, and
a system the Cuban government was setting up to prevent and track
spills. The Instituto de Oceanología de Cuba, which is part of CITMA,
has developed a comprehensive oil spill information system. Other
presentations at the conference were about the state of preparations in
other high-risk operations such as thermoelectric power plants and
ports, the role of Cuban fire fighters in disaster response,
bio-remediation of spills, and liability issues.
Source: “Oil spill affects Cienfuegos Bay « Cuba Standard, your best
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