Four months after roughly 55,000 barrels of oil were spilled at the Equinor oil facility on Grand Bahama during Hurricane Dorian, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the company is “making significant progress” with its cleanup efforts.
He said that government will continue to keep an eye on the status to ensure there is no lasting negative impact.
“As far as I’m aware – and I have not looked at a report in the last two, three weeks – they were making significant progress,” said Turnquest, the MP for East Grand Bahama.
“They had done the testing out and they have told me there is no leaching in the water, groundwater, at this point.”
He added, “The ground itself has been cleaned [and] the forest continues to be remediated.”
Dorian – the strongest storm on record to hit The Bahamas, which struck in early September – blew the roofs off several of Equinor’s tanks, distributing oil across the acreage of the property and into the neighboring forest.
In the aftermath of the storm, Equinor said more than 350 responders from 14 countries, including more than 100 responders from The Bahamas, were working on “recovery operations”.
Claiming that Equinor continues “testing” as the cleanup goes on, Turnquest said, “So, they’re making significant progress.
“But, again, with respect to the long-term monitoring progress, we’ll ensure that there is no long lasting or long-term effects from the storm.”
In November, Equinor Country Manager Tanya Rigby-Seymour said the company’s “best estimate is that it would take probably about another six months” for the cleanup to be completed.
The spill led local environmental groups to raise concerns regarding the impact of large oil facilities on the islands.
One of the groups, Save the Bays, warned that the government should take it as a lesson on how to treat projects like the controversial Oban Energies deal for a $5.5 billion oil storage and refinery in East Grand Bahama.
The deal has been shrouded in controversy since the government signed what it later called a “ceremonial” heads of agreement with the company’s Non-Executive Chairman Peter Krieger in February 2018.
The agreement was signed without an environmental impact assessment in place, which was a major point of contention for local environmentalists.
Government has since pledged to review the matter, and despite the controversy surrounding the deal, Oban released a statement over a month after the storm indicating that it is “still committed” to proceeding with the project.