A state of environmental emergency is being called for by fishermen in Trinidad and Tobago over a sinking oil tanker with 1.3 million barrels of oil.
If the oil spills, it would threaten the entire Southern Caribbean. At 264 meters in length and a capacity of 1.4 million barrels, the spill would be five times worse than the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska in 1989, which was the worst in history until the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon.
Officials have been criticized for allowing the situation to evolve for three months without taking sufficient action. The Nabarima is a Venezuelan oil tanker but part-operated by Italian energy giant, $55 billion ENI, and has been caught up in US sanctions since disputed elections questioned the legitimacy of the Venezuelan President. The tilting had been of concern since it was first noticed in July and crews later discovered water leaking on board. The situation has gotten progressively worse since then.
It was only last week that a representative of the fishing community in Trinidad, Gary Aboud, was able to get close enough to the heavily listing Venezuelan oil tanker to show first hand how serious the risk is, especially with the Caribbean in a particularly active 2020 hurricane season that is only due to end by November 30.