The pollutant discharge of hydrocarbons from a refinery in the Cuban Bay of Cienfuegos (center-south) due to heavy rains last week is under control and the waters have been partially cleaned, informed an official source today.
Pollution in the cove “decreased” thanks to the cleaning and sanitation tasks of the past few days, said Iván Figueroa, head of the Supervision Unit in Cienfuegos (some 200 kilometres southeast of Havana) in statements to the state news agency Prensa Latina
The Cienfuegos refinery, the largest in the country, poured some 12,000 cubic meters of oily water and hydrocarbons into the bay a week ago, after the facilities that injected the crude into the plant were flooded and part of the treatment system collapsed due to the heavy rains of the subtropical storm Alberto.
The pollution affected between 60 and 70 percent of the central and northern part of this bay whose total surface is 88 square kilometres, so it did not affect the southern part, where the protected area of the Laguna de Guanaroca, specified the authority.
The joint action of unions, entities from different provinces and the Armed Forces stopped the expansion of the spill and achieved an improvement in the cleaning and sanitation of the waters, said Figueroa.
The teams in charge of closing the spill and cleaning the bay used containment barriers, as well as “other advanced technology equipment” and biodegradable detergents, he said.
Regarding the environmental impact of the spill, the official said that some dead fish and spotted birds were seen, although he considered that the greatest impact would be suffered by the aquatic ecosystem, especially in the fauna that lives attached to the rock.
He said that the assessment of environmental damage has not been immediate because it is necessary for the waters of the bay to recover the transparency to “sight in the depths”.
He also warned of the “need to update the response plans to hazards, vulnerabilities and risks from these new situations” in Cuba, an island that has not suffered in its recent history disasters caused by oil spills but suffers the effects of cyclones and tropical storms.
In the case of the storm Alberto, occurred days before the start on June 1 of the hurricane season, “left as many damages as any hurricane,” said the official.
Source: La Vanguardia