Fuel leaking into the harbour from Government property at the Camber which caused concern within the local community has been stopped, Director of Natural Resources John Barton assured Penguin News this week.
The leak of diesel was reported by a member of the public on Thursday and was estimated to be running at a rate of 40 litres per hour. This was measured by the rate at which a container to catch the fuel was emptied by a concerned crew member from a nearby fishing vessel.
The member of the public said the whole Camber dock was “stinking of diesel” with the fuel “running out into the harbour,” and added that the crew from fishing vessels docked at the Camber were also concerned that it might be thought by relevant Government officers that the fuel in the harbour was from their ships.
Mr Barton said in addition to the fuel being caught by personnel at the dock on Thursday, staff from the Public Works Department had attended the site on Monday, collected the oil, sealed the pipe and investigated the fuel source.
“There appeared to be some gas pressure in the pipe, and whether due to warm weather or something else, that appears to have caused the leak.” He said it was clear there were a number of other hazards in the area which also needed to be addressed.
Challenged by Penguin News that there was an uneven playing field where the fishing and oil industries were expected to operate to the highest standards, while FIG offered no more than an ad-hoc approach to environmental issues, MLA Michael Poole said: “I would suggest that the playing field is even, but there is a difference in the quality of the respective performance of the public and private sectors.”
He said the Government recognised that it had a duty to improve waste management practices and facilities in a number of areas, albeit in an affordable, managed and sustainable way.
“A draft strategy for waste management will reach Executive Council in December and MLAs hope this will offer an opportunity to give this issue the push that it clearly requires,” he said.
Government’s cavalier attitude to the rural areas surrounding Stanley is not a new issue and after the dumping of oil in Mary Hill Quarry (June 2013) an independent investigative report was undertaken. Assurances were made that future incidents would be dealt with appropriately and the report stated: “It is absolutely unacceptable for FIG to not handle waste oils correctly and in an environmentally friendly manner.”
The report also made the recommendation that legislation to make the irresponsible dumping of waste oil an offence, should be introduced.
MLA Poole said that while the Government recognised its responsibilities in this field, “sadly movement has been limited in terms of implementation of the recommendations from that independent study. At this stage no direct waste management legislation is on the drafting priorities list.”
Recognising that the Government is exempt from requiring a licence to dump a variety of products in the sea via the sewerage system, Penguin News asked if this also applied to fuel and oils?
MLA Poole stressed that the Camber incident was not a deliberate dumping, “it was leakage from decades old fuel equipment.
“FIG recognises that these types of accidents should not occur and will discuss how to ensure that it does not happen again at the Camber with relevant parties in the coming weeks.”
The Camber area is home to drums of oils and lubricants left over from when the military used the area between 1982 and 1985 some of which are leaking from a rotten container located in front of the house. There are also many piles of metal and other rubbish all over Navy Point and two very large fuel tanks which are deteriorating.
Some of this debris runs straight into the harbour and is visible to cruise ships and tenders carrying tourists into Stanley.