© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
IPR20012_Website_Header_Option2_NewsNavy.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Oil Seen Leaking From Hurricane-Hit Facility On Grand Bahama Island

A satellite image taken Friday shows damage and oil leaking from a terminal on Grand Bahama. The company that owns it says 1.8 million barrels were being stored there when Hurricane Dorian hit late Sunday.
Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies
A satellite image taken Friday shows damage and oil leaking from a terminal on Grand Bahama. The company that owns it says 1.8 million barrels were being stored there when Hurricane Dorian hit late Sunday.

A major oil storage terminal on Grand Bahama Island was damaged by Hurricane Dorian and has leaked oil into the surrounding environment, raising concern that the oil could damage local reefs and wildlife.

The South Riding Point facility sits on the shore of the island's eastern side and is home to 10 giant storage tanks capable of holding up to 6.75 million barrels of crude, according to Equinor, the company that runs the facility.

When Dorian struck Grand Bahama late Sunday, the terminal had 1.8 million barrels on site, according to Erik Haaland, a spokesperson for Equinor.

It's not clear how much oil has leaked.

In a statement, the company acknowledged that oil had spilled from South Riding Point. "Oil has been observed on the ground outside of the onshore tanks. It is too early to indicate any volumes," the statement said. "At this point there are no observations of any oil spill at sea." Equinor also said it was mobilizing oil spill response resources "as soon as possible."

"The white cylinders were covered with oil slick, and there were slicks going well around the facility and out into the road and the forest," says Sam Teicher, chief reef officer for, a local company that's seeking to re-seed reefs in the Bahamas. "There were a few workers there assessing the damage, but very few people have been able to even get out to that point."

Imagery from the commercial satellite company shows what appears to be extensive damage at the facility. Several tanks are missing tops, and a slick of oil can be seen extending from the site.

Teicher drove past the site Thursday and says he's worried a fire could start, groundwater could be contaminated or spillage could seep into the ocean. "There are coral reefs near there, there are some pretty wonderful beeches and crystal clear oceans," he says.

Coral reefs in the Bahamas have been dying off in recent years. Warming oceans due to climate change are partially to blame.

Teicher says for now, though, he is mainly concerned with the people of Grand Bahama. The hurricane damage on the eastern side of the island is particularly severe.

"It was utter devastation out there," he says. "In one town, High Rock, I would say 5% of the homes were still habitable. Some homes were completely gone, nothing remained."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Tags

NPR NewsEnvironment
Geoff Brumfiel works as a senior editor and correspondent on NPR's science desk. His editing duties include science and space, while his reporting focuses on the intersection of science and national security.
Lauren Hodges is an associate producer for All Things Considered. She joined the show in 2018 after seven years in the NPR newsroom as a producer and editor. She doesn't mind that you used her pens, she just likes them a certain way and asks that you put them back the way you found them, thanks. Despite years working on interviews with notable politicians, public figures, and celebrities for NPR, Hodges completely lost her cool when she heard RuPaul's voice and was told to sit quietly in a corner during the rest of the interview. She promises to do better next time.