Equinor is preparing to return to normal operations at its South Riding Point terminal on Grand Bahama, following a cleanup of roughly 55,000 barrels of oil that were spilled during Hurricane Dorian in early September.
In a press release, dated January 31, Equinor stated that the cleanup of oil at and around the terminal was completed and that cleanup of the oil spilled in the forest will continue through summer.
“The oil collected from the oil spill and other waste will be prepared for export to the U.S. for further treatment,” the release stated.
It added, “Following the completion of the recovery of the free oil at and around the terminal, the remaining cleanup of the oil in the forest northeast of the terminal will be completed. This work will have to be done manually and will continue towards the summer of 2020.
“There is still no sign of the oil spill having any marine effect in the sea outside the terminal. The groundwater testing in the vicinity of the terminal, performed by independent contractors and third-party laboratories, is performed in close cooperation with and in the presence of the Bahamian authorities.
“Five additional wells have been drilled, giving a total number of 27 wells for the testing of the groundwater. There continues to be no sign of oil contamination. The monitoring of the water wells will continue throughout 2020.”
The release noted that “work is now ongoing to fully assess the technical status of the terminal and its facilities”.
“Following the export of the remaining stored oil, extensive work to perform a comprehensive technical review of the tanks and the facilities has been initiated,” it stated.
“This work will result in a recommendation for the reconstruction before normal operations can be resumed. It is too early to give a firm estimate for when the terminal will be back to normal operations.”
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said he was pleased with the company’s efforts to clean up the spill, although local environmental groups raised concerns regarding its impact.
However, local environmentalist and Save the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville said yesterday that the group is now comfortable with Equinor’s progress and with the government’s level of attention to the matter.
Darville said that representatives of environmental groups Save the Bays and Waterkeepers International Alliance, along with Turnquest, visited the site of the oil spill on Saturday. Yesterday morning environmental representatives also met with Equinor representatives.
“As far as the progress in that is concerned, the cleanup… according to their estimates and according to their report and basically according to what we have been able to observe, based upon the manner in which they’re having to do this, inch-by-inch, leaf-by-leaf, plant-by-plant, I would like to say I am fairly comfortable that they’re doing all that they can physically and possibly do at the present time, in terms of the cleanup of that environment without having to bring in any sort of equipment,” Darville said.
“Everything now has to be done meticulously by hand in terms of any leaves or limbs of trees that might be saturated. So, I’m quite comfortable now.”