Update On Oil Spill In Kingston Harbour

December 29, 2016

The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has completed the initial investigation, including an ecological assessment, of the oil spills which occurred in the precincts of the Kingston Harbour over the period 24 November to 26 November 2016.

Three oil spills occurred during this period. The spills were confined to the New-Port East area of the Kingston Harbour. The investigations found that two of the spills were as a result of operational accident during bunkering activities. The other spill occurred from a land-based facility.

An oil sheen as a result of the incidents covered an area of approximately 27km2 of the Harbour extending to the shoreline of the Palisadoes. A post monitoring assessment on 2 December 2016 indicated that no oil sheen was observed in the Harbour.

The Agency’s team, as secondary responders, in conjunction with other key response agencies completed the following activities:

  • Tracked and developed trajectories for the movement of the oil within the Kingston Harbour;
  • Identified natural resources at risk;
  • Assessed the oil impacts on the marine environment; and
  • Conducted post monitoring which is expected to continue for the next 12 months.

The Jamaica Defence Force Coast Guard, as first responders and National On-Scene Coordinator, deployed personnel and equipment in respect of two of these incidents. Oil containment, recovery equipment and material were also deployed by private parties to abate the spill.

NEPA’s initial ecological assessment focused on the impact on the flora and fauna of the Kingston Harbour, including the impact of the oil sheen on mangrove root systems on sections of the mangroves in the Palisadoes – Port Royal area, and on the plankton community that exist within the water column of the Harbour. The Ecological Assessment Report also made a determination on the value of ecological damage associated with these spills

The legal discourse has commenced with the parties allegedly involved in the incident.

The release of any trade effluent or industrial waste or any noxious or polluting matter into any harbor constitutes a criminal offence. The Natural Resources Conservation Authority also has the legal right to among other things recover any cost incurred in furtherance of abating the impact of the spill.