Regional countries raise concerns about Gulf oil spill with Hillary Clinton

Regional countries raise concerns about Gulf oil spill with Hillary Clinton


Friday, June 11, 2010

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) Caribbean countries say they are concerned that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could reach their shores and have raised the matter with United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during talks here yesterday.

"Clearly there is anxiety in the region about that and we had the opportunity to speak to that. Clearly we are concerned about the possibility of it reaching our shores and Secretary Clinton recognises that and every effort will be made to solve the problem," said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer.

Spencer, who is also chairman of the Caricom Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR), said there were concerns that the spill could reach the Bahamas, Jamaica or Cuba.

Bahamas Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette said experts, including those from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), have warned that the northern island chain is vulnerable to the spill.

"At the moment it's an international concern. Our concern is when it hits the loop and it's the whole question of that tidal flow brings it down south and, also, the potential of any hurricanes.

"So we're monitoring it. I think by the time it gets to the Bahamas it may be in the tar ball stage which is less of a problem but still a very big problem because that's the feeding ground for a number of our fish.

"The United States doesn't have the resources. It's going to be a challenge to all of us," he added.

Clinton described Symonette's presentation as "sobering" telling reporters that he pointed to the United States' inability to cope with the clean-up.

"Our understanding of, and preparation for dealing with a disaster like this is out-of-date," Clinton said.

"People have reached agreements and organised themselves to deal with a tanker accident or a cruise ship discharge - the kinds of things that unfortunately were the problems of the past.

"But now we face this catastrophic blowout of this huge drilling operation in the Gulf and ministers made a very good suggestion that we need to start right now to get better prepared, better equipped to deal with something that might be of this magnitude in the future," she said, noting that the Obama administration has pledged to do everything possible to prevent further environmental damage.

Yesterday, BP said it planned to increase the volume of oil captured from a ruptured well in the Gulf of Mexico by early next week.

The spill, which has been ongoing for almost two months, has severely affected the livelihood of fishermen, tour operators and other businesses in some United States cities.

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