By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
SAVE the Bays Chairman Joseph Darville criticised the government yesterday for not being present to oversee the clean-up efforts at the Equinor South Riding Point facility in East Grand Bahama.
Mr Darville told The Tribune there is still no government official stationed at the site to monitor the daily clean-up taking place.
He said: “I don’t know why that is, but I think it’s because…they gave Equinor permission to carry out the cleaning effort as they see fit. They do have a team there from Polaris as I indicated before and I have fairly good confidence in them that they would do the job as it should be done. I don’t think they will deceive us the environmental (groups) or deceive the government with respect to proper way to complete that cleaning.
“It’s still (poor) that there isn’t anyone there from the government permanently overseeing the clean-up effort. Even if they visited for one or two hours a day just to make sure they are monitoring the people’s property. That is Crown land and that belongs to the people. We have elected governments to take care of our precious environments and particularly our pine forest, that is a reserved area.”
Mr Darville noted Equinor officials said it took them a long time to get permission from the government to commence the clean-up process in the pine forest.
“...I guess because it’s Crown land they had to go through some procedures but again that was very disconcerting that some two months after the spill they have yet to clean up into the forest proper. What they are doing now, they are having to carry out the procedure bit by bit, inch by inch. They are clipping the leaves that are saturated with oil,” he said.
“The task is going to be a long and tedious one they do estimate in the last meeting that they had with Water Keepers Bahamas and Save the Bays that it’s going to take them at least six months to go through that whole area hand by hand, cleaning and clipping all the things saturated in oil.”
After Hurricane Dorian pummelled the northern Bahamas in September, reports emerged of an oil spill from Equinor’s South Riding Point storage facility in Grand Bahama. The estimated volume of the oil spill is 55,000 barrels (2.3 million gallons).
Equinor has said it is committed to cleaning up after the incident. The company has said it will establish a long-term monitoring plan of ground water and for the affected forest areas to be submitted to local authorities.