Heavy fines proposed in new environmental legislation

Individuals who release hazardous substances into Bahamian waters may face fines of up to $500,000, according to the proposed Environmental Planning and Protection Bill, 2019.

The bill was among the compendium of bills tabled by Minister of the Environment Romauld Ferreira in the House of Assembly yesterday.

The Environmental Planning Bill “provides for the prohibition of discharge of any hazardous substance, chemical, oil or mixture containing oil into any waters or segment of the environment, except in accordance with prescribed regulations”.

“…The bill prohibits a person from discharging any hazardous waste into the environment, except with prescribed regulations,” the proposed bill notes.

It also notes that summary convictions of the crime will result in fines of up to $7,000 and up to six months in prison.

Individuals convicted would be fined up to $500,000 and up to five years in prison.

If passed, the bill would force convicted parties to “pay the cost for the restoration” for impacted areas, including any costs that would’ve been incurred by the government, as a result of the discharge.

It would also mandate that the guilty party cover the cost of any damage for losses of individuals impacted by the discharge.

Under the proposed bill, only permitted individuals would be able to discharge hazardous waste into the environment.

The bill aims to classify hazardous waste as toxic waste, explosive waste, corrosive waste, extremely hazardous waste, carcinogenic waste, flammable waste and persistent waste.

This bill was tabled six months after it was revealed that the Carnival Corporation had dumped almost 500,000 gallons of sewage in Bahamian waters two years earlier.

Minister of Transport and Local Government Renward Wells said the government will investigate the reports.

Ferreira has expressed “revulsion” over the revelation, describing it as “environmental savagery”.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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