DEH mops up Brac oil leak

| 08/07/2014

(CNS): An oil spill at the Brac dump last week was from the used oil at the site that had been stored in deteriorating 5-gallon buckets and 55-gallon drums that were open and partially filled. According to the director of the Department of Environmental Health (DEH), who personally supervised the clean-up, there was evidence that the drums were “knocked or tipped over, either accidentally or deliberately, and those oils significantly contributed to the oil spill on site”. Roydell Carter said that some of the small plastic containers had started to deteriorate and leak but did not contribute significantly to the oil spillage. Photos of a thick layer of oil seeping directly into the ground were taken by Brac resident Dalkeith Ebanks. CNS send the pictures on to Carter and the minister responsible, Osbourne Bodden, and Deputy Premier Moses Kirkconnell, who has responsibility for the Sister Islands.

The next day, Thursday 3 July, the DEH director travelled to Cayman Brac to supervise the clean-up, along with the DEH foreman of recycling operations. Working with the DEH’s Brac team and an un-named private company, the spilled oil and soil was collected and placed in a separate area of the landfill for further processing.

“All of the remaining used oils in the small containers were transferred to new 55-gallon drums and secured on site. The area now has new soil material in place,” he stated.

Explaining how this could have happened, Carter said that, in addition to the poor storage conditions, the used oils were being stored on a sloped area, "which caused the spilled oils to accumulate in a designated area making the clean-up process fairly straight forward without any difficulty.” However, he admitted that there was “definitely room for improvements in the landfill operations and recycling programmes on the Sister Islands” and said that the staff would also undergo necessary training to improve operations.

DEH staff do monitor the site periodically, he maintained, but members of the public can bring in used oils at any time in any kind of container.

“The public can also tamper with what is on site since the landfill is unsecured at this time. Staff were aware that some containers had unsecured covers and others had secured lids but may develop slow leaks,” he said. “As previously mentioned it appeared that some used oil containers were recently knocked over or tipped over, whether deliberately or accidently.”

The director said that the DEH will make some additional improvements to the used oil storage on the Brac, which will include using a different storage area at the landfill, proper signage, use of recently acquired purpose-built oil storage and shipping tanks that can hold about 350 gallons of used oils, and transfer of the used oils when the containers are full.

“All used oils brought to the landfill site by the public in improper containers will be transferred on a regular basis to the new used old storage and shipping tanks that will soon be on site,” he said. “Meanwhile, used oils will continue to be temporarily stored in good quality 55-gallon drums that can be secured to prevent oil spillage.”

There is a used oil programme for the Sister Islands where the accumulated oil is shipped once or twice a year‎ to Grand Cayman, Carter explained. The shipment frequency depends on used oil volumes but generally the used oils are transferred between June and July. He said the oil now at the Brac site was placed there by the public since removal last year.

“The DEH has a plan in place to remove all used oils on site this month since the new budget has been approved and this will be an ongoing programme,” the director stated.

“The DEH recycling team has already transferred the used oils at the site into new sturdy 55-gallon drums in preparation for transfer to Grand Cayman this month for further processing, where the old will be tested and combined with the other oil supplies for final shipment off-island to a recycling facility in the United States. All used oils on the Sister Islands will be shipped to Grand Cayman for further processing,” he said.

“The DEH would like the Brac public not to interfere with the oil storage area or remove any items from the landfill site as in the process they may cause an accident, spillage as they may be hurt or injured in the process if the items are not properly secured,” Carter said.

In addition, he said there would be further education of the Cayman Brac public about recycling and the need to properly store oil on the site. The plans, he said, may include closing the landfill to the public after certain hours to enable better management control of the site and to reduce and prevent incidents from occurring when the site is unattended.”

Asked about Little Cayman, he said there is a secured used oil storage area ‎on that island which does not have any problems.

“There is definitely room for improvements in the landfill operations and recycling programmes on the Sister Islands and the public will see and hear more about the procedures and programmes this year,” he stated.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    These containers have been leaking for months, and a nasty area around the pallets the containers were stored upon.     It's pretty obvious that if you leave plastic to bake in the sun, it will atrophy, crack and the fluid within will leak out.    Hopefully this cleanup will foster improved procedures for oil storage and management.   

  2. tellmenah says:

    This whole ting is sickning.. If the drums were available they would have been used. Instead The Brac land fill is set up for this type of failure. Also I see the underline accusation saying it was some pickers fault the oil got spilled ….Shame on you for blaming the real recyclers of the island. Step up and do your job of providing the tools to run an effective land fill and it will be done.. A place like Cayman Brac would have zero waste if they were provided with a waste to energy plant. The waste from Little Cay would gladly be accepted.  

  3. Craig Mock says:

    Typical reaction.  It's all the Bracers' fault…….

  4. anonymous says:

    And next the cleanup of the Salt Water Pond and the maggots!

  5. Anonymous says:

    No worries we have a commitee that's going to solve all our dump issues soon…

  6. Mike says:

    That's a load of crap, also explain how they could go and spay the pond with something and improve the smell 3 days after the Alexander closed down. face it the Brac is finished and our elected members don't give jack about us and the sad part is they can be that way until next election and then throw two little parties and get right back in. Sad Sad Sad!!

    • Anonymous says:

      Umm, exactly how do you make the connection between the Brac dump and the Alexander Hotel?

      • justacomment says:

        Did you ever think the trip to  Brac was because of the pond? Is it possible the landfill was the side trip?

      • Mike says:

        Cause the Dump and the Alexander smell the same!!