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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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In response to videos circulating on Wednesday by concerned citizens, the Port Authority has investigated a reported oil leak that occurred in the sea near Placencia. News Five spoke with Port Commissioner, Major Gilbert Swazo, who said that luckily the leak did not cause significant damage to marine life. However, action will be taken against the vessel.

Major Gilbert Swaso, Commissioner, Belize Port Authority

"It turned out that there is a landing barge named Lowen's Barge. It is registered by the Belize Port Authority and then we found out that the exhaust soot was coming out the exhaust of the port engine. Immediately, what we did was ensure that the vessel got into harbour safely and then we ended up giving that vessel what is known to be a prohibition for sailing. It is, as I said, an exhaust and there seemed to be a problem with the port engine. A similar event had occurred two months ago where this same vessel was given the prohibition for sailing and we then ascertained and went back to inspect and at that time it seems that the engine trouble was remedied. But seemingly, again, the same engine, the same vessel almost two months one day after."

Belize Port Authority and D.O.E. Considering Measures against Vessel

Major Swazo indicated that the vessel will be prohibited from operating for as long as it takes to make the necessary repairs to become seaworthy again.

Major Gilbert Swaso, Commissioner, Belize Port Authority

"We'll take whatever legal recourse and we have given the prohibition for sailing to ensure that that vessel engine is rectified so it does not happen again."

Marion Ali

"How long is the prohibition for?"

Major Gilbert Swazo

"The prohibition is will be as long as it takes to ensure that that vessel - the engine is rectified for it to operate effectively so it does not discharge anything into the water. It was not something that was intentionally done. The operator of the vessel was aware of it and certainly you have to get the vessel back to safety."

Channel 5

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,395
Marty Offline OP
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Leaking Vessel Prohibited from Sailing Defies Order

[Linked Image]Last Thursday, we reported on a vessel that was leaking soot into the Caribbean Sea near Placencia. It was the second time in as many months that the vessel had been found to have caused the leak and needed repair. The Port Authority imposed a prohibition to sail order upon the vessel until adequate repairs had been conducted, and according to Port Commissioner, Major Gilbert Swazo, fines would be forthcoming. But today there are new reports that the same vessel was out working and that it had left a trail of soot of between two and three miles long. News Five asked Major Swazo what happened and what actions are being taken to ensure that the vessel does not create any more problems.

Major Gilbert Swazo, Port Commissioner

"We do have maritime enforcement officers who are checking periodically to ensure that that vessel remains where we had it berthed. So yesterday, apparently before daybreak, it was reported to us that the vessel left its location and then when also ascertained that in fact, the vessel had sailed. So we have since subsequently responded by stating to them that the prohibition for sailing remains in effect. We have also collaborated with the Belize Coast Guard who have now deployed vessel and troops to ensure that that vessel will not sail at all and we also collaborated with the Department of the Environment. So the three organizations combined are ensuring that that vessel remains where it is and the Port Authority and the Department of the Environment will definitely be bringing charges on the owner and on the captain of the vessel. The vessel is not to move until it is certified that the engine has been properly rectified by a certified engineer mechanic which will be verified by Port Authority and the Department of the Environment even before it will be authorized to sail."

Owner/Operator of Vessel Could Settle Fine Out of Court

The owner/operator of the vessel will be given an opportunity to settle the matter out of court if they so choose. But when we contacted the owner, Albert Loewen this afternoon, he explained that he never violated the prohibition to sail order because he didn't know about the order and two, the vessel never sailed. He said they simply removed the vessel to repair it. But regardless of Loewen's claim, The Belize Coast Guard has the vessel under surveillance while the Department of Environment is investigating the severity of the leak. Celi Cho of the Department explained that it was not any kind of pollution that occurred.

Voice of: Celi Cho, Environmental Officer, Department of Environment

"It's not leaking oil into the sea per se, but instead, how the engine operates and the location of the exhaust pipe, it's the exhaust coming out of the pipe that it's so close to the water that when it's operating it mixes with the water and then leaves that film on the surface of the water. It's when the vessel is operating that's when the film is emitted from the engine, so if it doesn't sail then there's no emission into the sea. So Port has their legislation that they are looking under for which they have issued the prohibition on sail and any fines could be levied under their legislation. Under our legislation, it would be different fines levied or different charges levied because we are looking at the protection of the environment while Port Authority is looking at the vessel itself and its ability to navigate the sea."

Coast Guard Keeping Watch Over Craft

So tonight the Belize Coast Guard is keeping watch over the vessel to ensure it is not moved again as Lieutenant Kenrick Thomas informed us.

Lt. Kenrick Thomas, Operations Officer, National Coast Guard

"We continue to have a surface asset assigned to this duty to ensure that there is no operation from this craft and the Coast Guard will continue to maintain such presence to mitigate their operation. We maintain twenty-four hours watch on the craft so as to ensure that once it comes into operation we are there to intercept."

Channel 5

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