Trinidad and Tobago is on the brink of declaring a national emergency as the country grapples with a significant oil spill wreaking havoc along the southwestern coast of Tobago. The spill originated from a ship, known only as The Gulfstream, which capsized last Wednesday near the Cove Eco-Industrial Estate.

The spill has already affected at least 15 kilometers (nine miles) of pristine beaches, endangering marine life and threatening the livelihoods of coastal communities. Despite the efforts of 1,000 volunteers and government personnel, the situation remains dire.

Farley Augustine, chief secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly, revealed on Saturday that the government is contemplating designating the disaster as a Level 3 emergency, marking it as the highest level of crisis. This move would signify the overwhelming nature of the situation and the necessity for substantial international support.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley emphasized the severity of the spill, noting that the cleanup and restoration efforts cannot commence until the situation is under control, which is not currently the case. The spill’s timing, just before the country’s Carnival celebrations, adds to the urgency, as the event is crucial for the nation’s economy.

The spill, which has affected over 25 miles of coastline, poses a significant threat to the environment, public health, and the vital tourism industry. With no clear ownership of the vessel and no emergency calls made, the incident raises questions about accountability and oversight in maritime operations.

This potential declaration of a Level 3 disaster underscores the gravity of the situation and the urgent need for coordinated national and international response efforts.