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STB: Lesson to be learned from Equinor oil spill

Save the Bays (STB) is warning that the oil spill at Equinor’s South Riding Point storage and transshipment terminal in High Rock, Grand Bahama should be a lesson to the government on how it should treat projects like the embattled Oban Energies deal.

Legal Director of Save the Bays Fred Smith said in a press release from the group that allowing the development of another oil storage facility would be “dangerous and reckless.”

Smith also contended in the press release that oil storage facilities are “bastions of an outdated and defunct form of energy production and produce very few jobs for locals, with the profits all being shipped overseas into the bank accounts of foreign owners.”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, Equinor revealed that there were 1.8 million barrels of oil stored in three of ten tanks on the property.

The hurricane blew the roofs off several of those tanks, spilling oil across the acreage of the property and into the neighboring forest.

“The situation in Freeport today, where the coastline is polluted with heavy, dirty fuel oil, the water table is contaminated and residents have been told they must avoid the water supply, should serve as a dire warning,” Smith said.

“The time has come to close the door on this potentially disastrous flirtation with the Oban proposal.

“The government will have to ensure Equinor urgently cleans up the South Riding Point and High Rock area. They would be insane to create an even larger threat to the pristine and ecologically invaluable eastern end of the island.”

Smith added that strong storms could be the new normal for The Bahamas in the future as a result of climate change.

While Equinor has stated that it has begun the cleanup at its site, which was corroborated by individuals from the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation, which owns the land, STB Chairman Joseph Darville claims there is no evidence that it is happening.

“Darville visited the site of the spill last week and was alarmed to find evidence of the oil contamination at least a mile and a half away,” the STB release stated.

“The roof of the company’s building appears to have been stained by the oil slick which, riding on Dorian’s storm surge, had reached 35 feet high. He said the canopy of the surrounding pine forest was saturated with oil at the same level for a distance of 400 meters from the oil plant.”

Darville said of the proposed Oban facility: “This is a warning… that we need to permanently shelve this foolish, asinine, ignorant proposal for good. It would be unconscionable for the government to move forward with this proposal now.”

The government put the brakes on the Oban project after a scandal arose over the company’s non-executive chairman signing the deal with someone else’s signature.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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