PLP Chairman: FNM using 2012 Rubis spill to serve political interests

Bradley Roberts

Bradley Roberts


Tribune Staff Reporter


PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts has “roundly condemned” the Free National Movement (FNM) for using the 2012 Rubis fuel spill to “serve their narrow political interests.”

In a statement released on Wednesday night, Mr Roberts also criticised the Official Opposition for failing to “address the concerns expressed by the residents” about the 24,000 gallon underground gasoline leak that he claimed occurred at a time when the FNM was in power.

However, he commended the government for “taking immediate actions to ensure that the leak was repaired and to mitigate environmental and health risks” upon learning of the spill.

Mr Roberts’ statement came days after Marathon MP Jerome Fitzgerald lashed out at critics he claimed attempted to politicise the fuel spill and take advantage of residents who might have been negatively affected.

Mr Fitzgerald spoke on Monday at a press conference where Health Minister Dr Perry Gomez released the preliminary findings of a report by independent toxicology expert Dr Rik van de Weerdt. The expert was brought in to the country by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Dr van de Weerdt found that health risk assessments carried out on 223 persons in or around the Marathon area concluded that, at this time, there were no long-term health effects detected.

In commending the government for its efforts in the matter, and subsequently slamming the FNM for the role it played, Mr Roberts said: “The opposition is roundly condemned for opportunistically using this unfortunate event to serve their narrow political interests. The FNM rally (that opposition leader Dr Hubert Minnis) and his operatives organised in the Marathon constituency was a national disgrace. To date, the FNM has disrespectfully failed to address the concerns expressed by the residents that leaks have occurred at that location as early as 1993 according to the Black and Veatch report. The FNM was the government at the time.”

He added: “In stark contrast, the record is clear that during this incident the PLP government acted in the best interest of Bahamian people. In the wake of the positive report from the Marathon community health investigation that revealed no indication of current exposure to or long-term risks to the health and safety of the residents of Marathon, the PLP is happy for the good people of Marathon and thanks them for their patience and cooperation during the fairly comprehensive health screening process."

According to Dr van de Weerdt, the government-administered environmental and medical tests also revealed that “no significant” detectable levels of contaminants were discovered in the area’s well water.

“We know there has been exposure to substances related to the fuel spill, an odor was perceived by residents and there was discoloration of well water," Dr van de Weerdt said on Monday. "But positively, we believe that exposure has not resulted in long-term health effects."

Dr van de Weerdt said the preliminary results were encouraging but that it was important to establish a complete picture of the situation, both in completing the health risk assessment and in reassuring concerned citizens.

However, on Tuesday, Justice for Marathon spokesperson Latoya Hanna said the government's announcement angered residents gathered at a Monday town meeting.

She said some of them have been unable to get testing for immobile family members and have yet to receive their own results.

She said the declaration that residents were never exposed to dangerous levels of contaminants was concerning given that at least one family was asked to do further testing - at their own cost.

"We're not convinced because we have a good cross-section that has not been tested," she said. "They had a clinic but you have persons in Marathon who were bedridden and it did not run for the full six weeks."

The leak at Rubis' Robinson and Old Trail Road service station was discovered in November 2012, and an independent report prepared by Black and Veatch International last year found that Marathon residents were “possibly exposed to harmful chemicals,” including cancer-causing benzene.

That report, however, never confirmed to what extent residents were exposed to long-term health effects.

The government's decision to withhold the report for more than a year ignited a national firestorm, with many critics ridiculing Mr Fitzgerald for his continued silence during that period.

However, Mr Fitzgerald has insisted that the delay in making the report public was due to advice from the Office Attorney General not authorising its release.


Cobalt 8 years, 2 months ago

Mr Bradley Roberts..... please shut the hell up.

Your PLP party used the crime crisis to serve their political interest as well! You plastered our streets with crime billboards implicating that the FNM was responsible for the high crime rate, just to score political points! You and your scandalous government aired our dirty laundry for the entire world to see, all in an effort to undermine the government, and take power! Do you think that we've forgotten about this??? I've told you before..... not all of us Bahamians are stupid.


Publius 8 years, 2 months ago

Bradley Roberts, just go drink some Marathon water till you url, and then shut up.


TheMadHatter 8 years, 2 months ago

Dr van de Weerdt said on Monday. "But positively, we believe that exposure has not resulted in long-term health effects."

Of course it has not RESULTED in long-term health effects, because a "long-term" has not yet passed. Duh.



Cobalt 8 years, 2 months ago

And he's a PhD??? I'm not sure where this guy did his fellowship or his graduate studies..... but he certainly makes all of us look bad. Any toxicologist with a background in epidemiology or biochemistry should know that gasoline components such as alkenes, benzene, alkanes and other aromatics can lay undetectable in ground water supplies and aquifers in small trace amounts. And the only way to detect these chemicals is thru extensive (long-term) testing. Just ask the Center for Disease Control (CDC). They spend millions of dollars per year testing ground water for potential contaminants.

This guy is full of crap, and he knows it. But then again, he's only following the lead of Jerome Fitzgerald and the PLP Government. They're paying him to tell them exactly what they want to hear.

The least they could have done was to place the residence of Marathon on a "boil-order" for the next few months while they conducted further testing. But I guess that Jerome Fitzgerald and the PLP decided that this was way too expensive and the people of Marathon weren't worth it. Ah well. Serves them right. They're the ones who voted for him. Hope they have good insurance. Carcinogenesis is difficult to treat.


abacogrouper 8 years, 2 months ago

So true. Remember, we suppose to be stupid.


asiseeit 8 years, 2 months ago

What an asshole! As if the PLP would not do the exact same thing. Murder billboards ring a bell you scum?


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