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Over 150,000 litres of diesel fuel spills in the Bahamas near white sand beaches of Great Exuma

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A delivery vessel accidentally spilled over 159,000 litres of oil into the ocean.
A delivery vessel accidentally spilled over 159,000 litres of oil into the ocean.   -   Copyright  Reuters
By Jill Pole  with Reuters

A vessel delivering diesel to the Bahamas resort island of Great Exuma spilled around 35,000 gallons (over 159,000 litres) of the fuel early on Wednesday, according to the country's acting prime minister.

"I am ... advised that all of the agencies of government are deployed to mitigate the matter," said Chester Cooper, who also represents the district of Exuma in parliament, adding that the fuel was destined for Bahamas Power and Light.

"We are happy that it is contained or appears to be contained," he said.

How did the oil spill happen?

Exuma is famed for its white sand beaches and crystal-blue waters, as well as beaches where tourists can swim with pigs.

Bahamas-based Sun Oil said in a statement that crew members on board a vessel called the MT Arabian discovered a leak at 4:00 am while discharging the fuel, adding that the crew later deployed absorbent pads and containment buoys.

"Fuel recovery procedures remain ongoing, led by owners of the MT Arabian," Sun Oil said, adding that its leadership team had traveled to Exuma to help respond to the situation.

What are the dangers of oil spills?

Oil spills are incredibly damaging and unfortunately they are very common throughout the world. In US waters alone there are thousands of oils spills every year. While many of the spills that occur are small they can still cause major damage, especially in sensitive environments like beaches.

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there are two main ways an oil spill harms ocean life. 

One of these is fouling or oiling which happens when oil physically harms a plant or animal. The other is oil toxicity which is when the toxic compounds of oil cause severe health problems.