Spill Notification Point
Nassau Port Authority
PO Box N-8175
Tel: +1 242 326 5677 or +1 242 323 3191 after hrs
Fax: +1 242 322 5545
Competent National Authority
Ministry of Transport and Aviation
Gold Circle House
East Bay Street
Tel: +1 242 394 0445
Fax : +1 242 394 5920
The Ministry of Transport and Aviation has overall responsibility for oil pollution response in the waters of the Bahamas. Under the National Oil Spill Contingency Plan of 1998 the Port Authority of Nassau, the international airport at Nassau and the Bahamas Defence Force (who all maintain a 24-hr service) would immediately contact the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Aviation if they received notification of a spill.
An Oil Spill Committee chaired by the Permanent Secretary of Transport and Aviation and comprised of representatives from government, industry and non-government organisations, has been formed to advise on response matters.
The Bahamas Oil Spill Contingency Plan of 1998 provides the framework for coordination of an integrated response through the development of local plans in the ports and petroleum handling facilities and also through the development of sensitivity mapping for the archipelagic country and the establishment of regional and international response linkages.
The Port Directors would normally lead initial response operations within their respective port limits using their own resources together with those available from local industry. A National Disaster Organisation has been set up which would be brought in to manage a major spill.
Clean-up of polluted shores on all islands is organised by the Environmental Health Services using local labour and oil industry-owned equipment. The Ministry of External Affairs is responsible for all claims co-ordination.
The national plan defines various options for clean-up. The Oil Spill Committee would meet to assess the situation and decide on the most appropriate action. The preferred strategy is the use of dispersant chemicals applied from vessels owned by the port authorities. Contacts have been established with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Clean Caribbean & Americas (CCA) in Florida to ensure that procedures are in place for bringing in external assistance if required. These are incorporated into the national plan. Oil recovered from shorelines has been disposed of by burying or spreading over scrubland in the past.
Government-owned clean-up resources are extremely limited at the moment, though plans are afoot to store some equipment at the Port Authority in Nassau to respond to spills in the harbour area.
The Bahamas Defence Force would provide aircraft and vessels for surveillance or movement of manpower and materials. Aerial spraying facilities would need to be obtained from the CCC or USCG. The port authorities in Nassau and Freeport operate tugs which are equipped for dispersant spraying, although only limited stocks of dispersant are available from the local oil industry.
Private resources are limited to those operated by the oil industry. Equipment, belonging to oil companies operating on New Providence and Grand Bahama Island, includes pumps, skimmers, boom and dispersant spraying gear. Great reliance is placed on resources available outside the Bahamas which can be made available in the event of a major incident. These resources would be obtained either from the USCG or CCC.
Previous Spill Experience
Previous spills in the ports from commercial vessels have tended to drift out to sea without causing any serious damage. The main impact has been the staining of yacht hulls.
Prevention & Safety
* not yet in force
Regional & Bilateral Agreements
- Cartagena Convention (with states of the Wider Caribbean Region).
Date of issue: February 2008
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