Close to 60,000 barrels containing oil and water have been recovered from the area where Equinor’s oil spill occurred at its South Riding Point terminal on Grand Bahama during the passage of Hurricane Dorian last September.
Dorian, which was the strongest storm on record to hit The Bahamas, blew the roofs off several of Equinor’s storage tanks, distributing oil across the acreage of the property and into the neighboring forest and sea.
Minister of Housing and the Environment Romauld Ferreira revealed that to date, 58,774 barrels (BBLs) of oil and water have been removed from the area, in addition to over 35,000 yards of contaminated soil.
“The Environmental Monitoring and Risk Assessment Division (EMRAD) monitors oil spills and fuel companies. The unit conducted a number of investigations related to indoor air quality concerns in public and private buildings, including buildings in Grand Bahama and Abaco. In addition, EMRAD continues to monitor the cleanup at Equinor, which we are pleased to say is progressing well,” he said.
“You would recall that Equinor revised its volumes of crude oil spilled from 119,000 BBLs to 55,000 BBLs. To date, 58,774 BBLs of oil and water was recovered. This number was verified independently by AmSpec, a global firm headquartered in the U.S. which specializes in such matters. In addition, 20,886 contaminated soil bags, 37,892 yards of contaminated soil and 5,352 yards of contaminated wood chips have been removed.”
Ferreira said ground water tests conducted by Equinor and independently by the Bahamas government, utilizing an independent lab, have also found that there is no contamination of the ground water.
“Ground water sampling and collection from the 27 monitoring wells installed on the site is ongoing,” he added.
“In addition to the goat and three birds, 12 other animals were oiled as a result of the spill. Regrettably, three were recovered as carcasses and 13 were admitted for rehabilitation and release into the wild.”
Last year, the government passed a compendium of new environmental legislation aimed at increasing penalties for violators and establishing more protections for the environment.
“Although important, laws alone will not prevent persons and entities from polluting; enforcement is the other essential feature,” Ferreira said.
“This is why from day one we focused on the environmental court getting the prosecutions unit of DEHS (Department of Environmental Health Services) up and running, fulfilling its mandate. The first cases were heard in February 2019 and to date over 85 cases were heard, with fines totaling more than $20,000.”