MIAMI — Oil that leaked from terminals in the Bahamas that had been damaged during Hurricane Dorian has spread along the coast and may have gotten as far as 50 miles out to sea, the company that owns the terminal said on Wednesday.
The Norwegian company that owns the facility, Equinor, made this announcement near the bottom of a news release highlighting the company’s $1 million donation to hurricane relief efforts. It had initially said that the leak was contained to land and that only three tanks contained oil.
Cleanup crews began work on Wednesday, a week and a half after Dorian, a Category 5 hurricane, ripped the domed tops off five storage tanks at the company’s oil storage and shipment terminal on the eastern end of Grand Bahama island, in South Riding Point.
While the company still does not know how much oil was spilled, Erik Haaland, a spokesman for Equinor, said answering that question is part of their efforts at the site.
“We now have 76 people at the site ensuring the safety and responding to the spill,” said Mr. Haaland on Wednesday. “Additional resources are en route.”
The company acknowledged that oil was spotted at Long Point Bight, close to Little Abaco Island, about 50 miles northeast of the spill, but the source of that oil was still being investigated.
Joseph Darville, an environmental activist in the Bahamas with a group called Save the Bays, visited the site of the spill on Tuesday and was alarmed to find oil about a mile and a half away. The company’s building appeared to have been stained with oil that, with the storm surge, had reached 30-foot heights, he said.
“We are expecting another powerful storm — tons and tons of rain,” said Mr. Darville. “All of this going to be washed into the water table.”
Security guards, the only people at the site on Tuesday, prohibited visitors from taking drone footage, he said.
Equinor said it hired two crews from Louisiana to begin containment. One arrived Tuesday night and the second was scheduled to arrive Thursday, the company said. The company says that 225 Equinor employees are also involved in the response.
“A team of tactical experts on oil spill response is on site and are preparing necessary work,” the statement said. “Equipment that has been mobilized includes equipment for use both onshore and offshore.”
The cleanup crew will use containment booms and hundreds of bails of various absorbent pads, rolls, oil spill recovery skimmers, wash pumps, and boxes to collect waste, the company said. An oil boom was deployed to close the harbor at the terminal to reduce the risk of oil spill to sea, according to the news release.
Operations are underway to secure the oil, the company said. That includes cleaning the oil spilled onto the ground and transferring oil from the damaged tanks into the remaining tanks, according to the company.