Cayman’s politicians silent on Gulf disaster

| 07/06/2010

Do our politicians read newspapers? Watch television news? Visit news websites? Do they have any idea what is going on in the Gulf of Mexico right now? I wonder because so far none of them have taken the time to make a meaningful comment on what may prove to be the greatest human-caused natural disaster in history.

For those who may be geographically challenged, the Gulf of Mexico is close to the Cayman Islands. Jamaica and Cuba are not impenetrable barriers to oceanborne threats. The Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea may have different names but no walls separate them. The Cayman Islands may not be directly downstream from this crisis, but we cannot assume favorable currents will protect us from millions of gallons of oil in the coming months and years.

Estimates vary widely, but some credible scientists believe an amount of oil equivalent to the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill is entering the water every four days. The ruptured seabed in the Gulf is spewing between 200,000 and 700,000 gallons of oil per day and this could continue all summer. By September it is possible that 100 million gallons will have been released. And it’s all happening next door to us. How can this not be worthy of a public statement of some sort by our political leaders?

Most of the oil that will contact land is projected to hit shorelines in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida, of course. But could some patches of it drift our way eventually? Yes. Credible projections by marine scientists show the bulk of the oil rounding the tip of Florida, moving up the East Coast, and large amounts “pooling” in the mid-Atlantic. If this happens, normal circulation patterns could send some muck our way several months from now. Less dramatic, perhaps, but more dangerous and longlasting will be the impact of millions of gallons of oil entering the food chain of Gulf, Atlantic and Caribbean waters.

How will the disruption to Gulf fishing and shrimping industries impact Cayman? We are an island society but much of our locally sold and restaurant-served seafood comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Shouldn’t we be concerned about health risks from Gulf seafood that may end up on our grocery store shelves and on our plates in restaurants? Are any of our MLAs worried about the potential impact to our local economy and health, or will they just be content to trust outside governments and companies to keep us safe?

Ourelected leaders’ lack of awareness and concern about the Gulf spill is stunning. During a recent rant on Rooster 101’s “Crosstalk” programme, for example, Premier McKeeva Bush brought up the topic of oil. But he said nothing about the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Instead he groaned about how people had failed to support his desire to have an oil refinery built in Grand Cayman. Yes, the worst oil disaster in history is growing day-by-day right here in our region and our leader is talking about how heartbroken he is because he didn’t get his oil refinery.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Viewpoint

About the Author ()

Comments (39)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Joe Average says:

    From Day 1 which was over 50 days ago BP has dropped the ball on their disaster.  They first after much ballyhoo, decided on a "top hat", some metal box which had to be fabricated first, and "delicately placed" over the spewing oil.  Their comment:

    "We’ve never attempted this at such depths."

    Then, when that proved to be futile weeks later as oil began washing up on shore they attempted a "top kill".  Their comment:

    "We’ve never attempted this at suchdepths."

    Hold on a minute.  IF "they’ve never attempted" any of this at such depths why on earth were they DRILLING FOR OIL at such depths????

    In becomes clear the Gulf of Mexico meant nothing to them!!!!  It appears instead it was merely a bunch of water in the way between BP and their oil and they had no contingencies in place to control or prevent such a disaster!!!!

    Why is BP still in control of the response??? If the U.S. can put together the manpower, resources, and the required logistics to clamber around the world blowing people up with Smart Bombs and Drones why can’t it put together the same to control this disaster?  The answer is….BP has them in their back pocket.

    This may not affect Cayman directly but it sends a clear message that industry has usurped government.  More than anything, this present disaster should make us aware we CANNOT rely on industry (financial or otherwise) to self-regulate.  And that governments, including Obama’s useless administration, are nothing more than mouthpieces for the same people that put them there. Or, allow them to pretend they are running the show for the benefit of the public.  I am thoroughly disgusted at Obama’s pussy-footing around this issue and his "tough talk".  It is utter rubbish.

    And…. we are too gullible.

  2. Anonymous says:

    The oil is still pouring into the Gulf with no end in sight.  It could easily double the present size…….

  3. Relativity says:

    This is not the biggest disaster ever.  It just appears to be the biggest disaster in the United States which to the US media means it is the biggest disaster ever.  Chernobyl was far worse in terms of range of damage.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Size of leak to date is estimated to be approx 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  So far 140 miles of US coastline affected out of 17,141 miles of US Gulf-state coastline (does not include Mexico).  The media is highly focused on this (and rightly so), but let’s keep some perspective on the scale of the problem. 

    • Rectus femoris says:

      What a dumb comment. I assume you will be updating your "40 swimming pools" estimate every day since the oil is still pouring out.  

  5. Anonymous says:

    Unless the planet starts spinning backwards, or the gravity of the oil spill changes, most of the environmental castastrophe will be confined to the Gulf region.  

    It seems very unlikely that any of that oil will get here.  There’s an outside chance that a small amount may blend into the Gulfstream headed for Florida, Bahamas, New York and Iceland than to us.


    • Person says:

      You fail to even acknowledge the impact on food imports in your argument.

  6. Caymanians for Good says:

    The sad reality is that the Cayman Islands will likely benefit from this spill as Florida and the Bahamas are likely to have continuous oil on their beaches within the month. On the other hand it is highly unlikely any will get here. Writer of article seems to be “ocean current” challenged.

    What I say is that we should start advertising in USA and England ( both are big draws for Bahamian & Florida tourists) showing our beautiful clean beaches. While I hope our fellow friends in Bahamas and even our friends in Florida do not get the oil we should not make a good opportunity go by.

    Get with it Department of Tourism!!! slogan suggestions welcome here to help them….

    • Real Tea says:

       Oil be back?

      Bring your lotion, we ain’t got no oil?

      Why visit Greece this summer?

      Slide on down to Cayman?


    • Sigh....... says:

      How about "Cayman’s Oily Pirates Set Tourist Trap With Clean Beach Lure?".

    • Rectus femoris says:

      In response to "Caymanians for Good", you say the author of the viewpoint is "ocean current challenged," but you are "basic-ocean-knowledge challenged" if you think millions of gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico will have no impact on Caribbean biodiversity.

      Do you seriously imagine that ocean currents are some sort of impenetrable barrier that no plankton, fish, whale or bird can cross? Are you really not aware of the numerous species who migrate from the Gulf to the Caribbean? 

      Let me guess, you must me an MLA. Am I right? 



  7. Anonymous says:

    The tunnel vision some individuals still seem to have in this century is just mind blowing! Whilst there may not be direct impact of the oil spill to the Cayman Islands, there will be most definetly indirect impact in some form.

    Furthermore, this should be a good reminder that "things" can happen anywhere, anytime, and preparations should be made accordingly. Ever wonder what would happen if the gas/oil tanks at the water front would leak, if a cruise ship would leak oil, gasoline or sewage into the harbour area due to faulty or broken tanks etc.

    I bet there is no emergency operation or plan put in place and/or practiced for any of those scenarios. By the time everyone is finished sitting around and scratching their asses, the damage will be HUGE to our tiny Island

    • Caymanians against crazy postings says:

      There are contingent plans for the incidents that you speak of already in place. Oil booms are on island for such an event. Such ‘spills” are practiced by DOE and Hazard management. How effective the plans are I cannot say but the premise of your post is lacking information.

      Also the wind driven ocean currents are actually away from Grand Cayman toward Mexico and as such the risk is minimized locally from the sources you mention.

      Notice the smoke from the cruise ships blowing away from the island?. That is what an oil spill on the western side of Grand Cayman is likely to do. A greater source of our problem are passing oil tankers pumping their bilge when they pass between here and Cayman Brac. Fortunately the oil does have a ‘fingerprint’ and can sometimes be tracked to the offending vessel. Not easy to do but DOE has in past sampled spills nearby and tried to track vessel.

      We spend $530,000,000 on government each year so they must be doing something with all that money, surely!

      • Anonymous says:

        We spend $530,000,000 on government each year so they must be doing something with all that money, surely.

        Mainly we seem to be converting money into frequent flier miles. Has anyone done an FOI request relating to who gets the benefit of those frequent flier miles? In many corporations frequent flier miles are used to offset the cost of travel but somehow I suspect that no such accountability exists for our politicians.

        CNS: Government entities are supposed to publish FOI responses, and many do so on their websites. If it hasn’t already been made there is no reason why you or anyone else cannot do so.

      • Anonymous9 says:

        Ah!!  Are those the same oil booms that they used off the iron shore in my back yard when they cut into the rock? Supposed to keep the mess within those bounds and within a week it was all down the shoreline?????

        Yeah, dem work good.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s funny! Right now it doesn’t seem that anyone can clean up properly after a minor car accident. Glass, metal and oil/gasoline spills are left wherever……….

      • Caymanians against stupid replies says:

        Why do you and some others here seem to think that oil washing up on the beach is the only thing to be concerned about?

        I suggest you do some research on a concept called "ecosystem". I believe you will find it enlightening.  



  8. islandman says:

    Considering that Mac wants to have some sort of oil business here, it is really no surprise that nothing is being said by the Govt.

    It seems an opportunity for the PPM to say what their thoughts are on such matters though eh? Hhmmnn.

    It also seems an opportune time to push the ideas of more sustainable energy (solar and wind) for Cayman. Much of the world has been making strides in this area, while Cayman does little.

    Had this only happened a week ago then it may have ben excused, but this catastrophe is now some 50 days ongoing, with no idea of when it will end. So i agree with your post completely that some statement at the highest political level should have been made by now. Instead the only mention we’ve had is the Premier still crying for an oil refinery. Go figure!

    But we might hear something now, since "them darn bloggas is at it agin"!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The author of this article seems to be oceanographically challenged.

    The current runs north through the Yucatan Channel. It is powerful and unrelenting. That cuts off a direct route.

    On the net, water enters the Caribbean from the east and is pushed out to the north through passages between the various islands. 

    Now the author would have us get up in arms about the possiblity of oil making a complete loop of the entire North Atlantic Gyre, entering the Caribbean, and finally fouling the shores of Cayman six months or more from now. Ignorethe effects of dilution and evaporation of the lighter components of the sheen. Forget about the deposition of heavier fractions.

    How, pray tell, would the protestations of the MLAs prevent this from happening? Can they really spout forth enough hot air to protect our shores?

    Maybe we could focus our energies on the more mundane tasks of preparing ourselves for the risks posed by the coming hurricane season? There is a much greater chance of one of those coming through the Caribbean.

    • Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

      Perhaps we can learn to walk and chew gum at the same time.  That is what the Bahamas, Florida and the Eastern seaboard are doing.  Oh- but the island is currently the victim of it’s own manmade disasters.  Can’t think about anything else now- screw the Caribbean and the rest of the world!

      • Anonymous says:

        Afraid… it is not that I do not care what is going on in the rest of the world.  But what exactly would you have us do to respond to an oil spill that is hundreds of miles away on the other side of Cuba and heading in another direction?

        The other direction, incidentally, is directly towards the Bahamas, Florida and the Eastern US seaboard.  Which is why it makes sense for them to prepare – to walk and chew gum at the same time, as you put it.

        "The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!"  –  Chicken Little

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed.  I’ve seen the news and the computer models which show ocean currents and everything seems to indicate oil would more likely hit the UK (or anywhere north and east of the spill) than Cayman (which is south, on the other side of Cuba, from the spill).  It doesn’t make any more sense for MLAs to get wound up about this than it would be for them to get wound up about asteroids hitting the earth. 

    • Rectus femoris says:

       To poster 11:52:   Yeah, and I guess this marine scientist is "oceanographically challenged" too. 

      Luis Carvajal, an expert at the Environment Department of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, said the species migrating to the Caribbean Sea, which is a part of Gulf of Mexico’s ecosystem, would be the first to be affected by the oil spill.

      "The magnitude of the spot is so big that it is altering the biodiversity in the zone, and sooner or later it will affect the Caribbean Sea," Carvajal said.

      Carvajal, who is a member of the Science Academy of the Dominican Republic, said that the catastrophe could be a threat to the species protected at local and international levels.

  10. You have Bahamas, hundreds on miles away from the leakage and these people are preparing for the oil reaching their destination.

    And what are the politicians doing about this incident – bets me!  We are not that far away!

    • Young.KY.female says:

      Bahamas are in the line of the current – ie oil is legitimately headed their way. 

  11. whodatis says:

    Never mind the naysayers CC – your article was a noble and sensible one.

    A threat is a threat – regardless of its likelihood.

    By the way – I too was perplexed by the Premier’s remarks in regards to his great disappointment in Cayman’s lack of support for his proposed oil refinery.

    Seriously – it is 2010 … this man is the "leader" of a delicate, tropical paradise … and this is where his head is at – an oil refinery?!


    By the way – we really have to step up our game in regards to renewable energy. Not for reasons relating to the great scam that is "global warming" (begin your journey to truth and understanding at "Climategate" / "Danish text" and work backwards … yes, our "world leaders" are that callous and manipulative!) – but simply because it makes sense. (However, this "sense" will result in less cents for certain entities – you know, like the multi-billion dollar company at the center of the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.)

    I was traveling through South-West Germany a few months ago and was amazed to see the country side sprinkled with solar panels upon the roofs of 50 – 60 year old farm homes! Mind now – this was in the dead of winter which just so happens to last for approximately half of the year! (Apparently their government subsidies the costs of solar panels by as much as 50%!)

    Makes me wonder about the alleged structural / physical / electrical / cultural "challenges" that are supposedly behind the reluctant take-off of this development in this country.

    I witnessed solar energy being utilized in everything from old homes, to newly erected supermarkets to individual parking meters in city centers – again, all of this was in a part of the world that in its best year can expect a mere 2 months of the type of warm and sunny climate that we enjoy all year round!

    Something to think about?

    I hope so …

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is a good article and your concerns should be noted. The one thing that we do have positively going for us in the Cayman Islands in regards to this oil spill, if it does travel south towards Key West and the Dry Tortugas area, most of it would be swept up in the gulf stream current heading east.

    The gulf stream as you probably know, has currents up to 4 knots heading east most of the time. Trust me, I sailed through it and it was a real "eye-opener" traveling from Miami down to Key West, then unto Cape San Antonio and then south east unto Grand Cayman. Even on the south side of Cuba between Cape San Antonio and Isle of Pines, the gulf stream current was so srong that is was literally pushing us back down towards the Cape and the Gulf of Mexico itself. 

    If the spill goes to Key West-Dry Tortugas, then Bahamas would definately be under serious threat and so would the Florida Key’s and the whole South Eastern United States.

    It’s not impossible however for the oil spill to make it’s way into the heart of the Gulf and if the current is moving south easterly as it sometimes does, it could somehow by-pass the gulf stream going north and we could get some effects from the oil spill. That is a log shot and more unlikely though.

    On a scale of 1-10, I believe the threat to the Cayman Islands in the long run is probably no more than a 4 from this oil spill. I believe at the moment we should not be getting ourselves overly excited about this situation. I’m more concerned at the moment about us remaining boyant in our tourism/financial sector with this large deficit that we have to endure, along with this worldwide recession.


  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow – I guess you think you are on the situation and the Politicians are not? Give me a break.     If you were on top of the situation you would have heard the report carrried by Radio Cayman, last week, and the comments given by a DoE staff member basically stating that it is highly unlikely that the oil spill will have any impact on these islands because of the geographics and the winds and currents etc.

    Have no fear our leaders read and pay attention to global issues but this is not one for them – maybe for you but not them.    They have more important issues to deal with, i.e. trying to balance our national budget and address issues facing our financial and tourism industry.         


    • Afraid to Strap on a Pair Also says:

      When the next Ivan comes you’ll again be humbled and realize that Cayman is but a tiny speck on the map. Let’s hope the rest of the world doesn’t have your tunnel vision.

    • Anonymous says:

      Hm – I would say there is such a thing as indirect impact. We need to stop assuming that just something doesn’t impact us directly (ie you see patches of oil floating around our coast), it doesn’t impact Cayman at all……..

      As such, the announcement from the DOE does not impress me at all as it seems to be very near-sighted and only considers the short term direct impact.

    • Caymanian Conscience says:

       A statement by a DOE official is not the same as a statement by our elected officials. That is the point being made here. He may be more informed than they are on environmental matters (who isn’t?) but they are the ones with all the power and responsibility. Therefore, they should be seen to be aware and concerned about this disaster in our midst. Their continued silence on this matter after more than a month suggests they are not. 

      Perhaps the problem is that you fail to appreciate the connection between the ecosystem that is the Gulf of Mexico and our ecosystem. They are connected. In fact, they are more properly thought of as the same ecosystem. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Likethey paid attention to the global economic crises signs??

  14. Prince of Tides says:

    "the greatest human-caused natural disaster in history"  how can it be human caused and natural?  Where does Chernobyl fit on the natural disaster caused by humans chart – it was far far worse than anything going on in the Gulf.

    • noname says:

      Because the leak was caused by humans but the oil is natural.  


      Chernobyl really wasn’t so disastrous in the long term as originally thought. The Gulf disaster may end up not being so bad either. But right now it looks bad, very bad. 

      • Ali Louya says:

        You obviously have not been to Belarus or Ukraine and seen the harm done to several generations from Chernobyl.  I have, it was horrific.

      • Anonymous says:


      • vocal local says:

        "Chernobyl really wasn’t so disasterous in the long term as originally thought".

        What in your mind would constitute "disasterous" then?

        Your statement sounds similar to the often heard "Collateral Damage" quoted by many who plan and wage wars. Which is all very convenient for those who are more concerned with their own ego/arrogance and making money today, with no care of how it may negatively impact others…or tomorrow.


      • Anonymous says:

        You need to read more about Chernobyl. There are farmers in northern England and Scandinavia who to this day cannot sell lambs because the grass, and consequently the meat, is too radioactive. I hope that the malformed children in Russia forgive you for your careless and misinformed comment.