Oil spill in Trinidad pushes government to hire foreign experts to contain, remove capsized barge

The capsized barge originally departed from Panama, was bound for Guyana

The government of Trinidad and Tobago announced Tuesday that it is partnering with international experts to remove the wreckage of a barge that capsized in nearby waters and caused a major oil spill.

T&T Salvage, a Texas-based company, and QT Environmental, of Minnesota, will work with local officials to also clean up the spill that has contaminated waters and beaches in the eastern Caribbean nation, according to its Ministry of Energy.


The spill occurred nearly two weeks ago, prompting the government to declare a national emergency and forcing the closure of at least two schools.

Divers are expected to find and plug leaks on the overturned barge while crews deploy an underwater oil-detection system, officials said. In addition, the government hired a remote operated vehicle to help with the ongoing work.

Trinidad and Tobago Oil Spill

Workers from state own Heritage Petroleum Oil and Gas Company clean up an oil spill that reached Rockly Bay beach, in Scarborough, south western Tobago, Trinidad and Tobago, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 (AP Photo/Akash Boodan)

Officials said the crews and equipment are expected to arrive starting Tuesday.

A preliminary investigation has found that the capsized barge had departed from Panama and was being tugged to nearby Guyana when it began to sink off Tobago’s coast.

Authorities are still seeking more details, including the location of the tugboat and its owner.

Trinidad's Fishermen and Friends of the Seas, a nonprofit organization, has questioned who will pay for the cleanup costs and compensate fishermen whose livelihood and equipment were affected by the spill.

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