The smell of oil stinks the air, the fields are stained with black mud: a week after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian, the island of Grand Bahama is facing an oil spill that further complicates reconstruction efforts .

In the climatic cataclysm, an environmental catastrophe was added when the strong winds hit the oil depot of the Norwegian company Equinor, located six kilometers east of the village of High Rock.

Part of the aluminum roofs of five of the ten tanks of the terminal flew away and two of these tanks were pierced, releasing oil, told AFP Erik Haaland, a spokesman for Equinor.

"Oil is deadly"

Oil "is deadly, mortal", beats AFP Marco Roberts, 38, a mask in his hand."Pollution returns"in soil, polluting the water table and"we can not use water to wash or drink", he adds.

He evokes a "poison"remembering that oil has already infiltrated the soil, mixed with the rain that fell the day before.

Between the rubble of their homes, a dozen people from the village of High Rock, on the south coast of this island of the Bahamas, have pitched a tent under which they share the emergency aid from Nassau.

Marco Roberts demands that the Bahamas authorities evacuate all the eastern part of the island or that they commit means to prevent the oil from spreading. "Everyone knows what's going on and we need help", he begs.

The oil group has said in a statement that it "will clean up the oil spill"Employees secure the area"but the situation is complex and difficult, damage to infrastructure slowing relief"he stressed.

Two ships carrying cleanup equipment are on their way from Louisiana, the company added.

Near the South Riding Point oil terminal, the earth is covered with a black, sticky paste, and the air is filled with the heady smell of the fuel.

The walls of the tanks are covered with oil that has spilled on the ground. The extent of pollution is still unknown, and it is not known if oil has reached the waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

"Not so stupid"

On the nearby beach, Joseph Darville seeks to know if the oil has reached the sea. The waters have regained their calm and their intense turquoise color, but the paradisiac landscape is ruined by the damaged vegetation and debris left by the hurricane. category 5.

This activist from the environmental NGO Waterkeepers Bahamas had fiercely opposed the construction of this terminal, on a coast where the inhabitants are dependent on tourism, fishing and where the water table is only one meter below the sea. area.

The fish swimming near the beach are a good sign, for now, he says.

They come from the "beautiful coral reef", five kilometers from the coast, populated by snappers, groupers, sea bananas and other lobsters, an industry that weighs 7 billion dollars according to him.

The oil spill "is a sign that we are not so foolish in the future"he concludes.


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