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Say No To Oil

EDITOR, The Tribune.

Bahamas Petroleum Company is getting ready to launch into the dangerous process of drilling for oil in our seabed, based on an expired Environmental Impact Assessment that is full of inaccuracies and outdated information.

The EIA, a requirement under the new Environmental Planning and Protection Act, clearly ‘expired’ six months ago. If you look at the document, available online, the drilling dates are still listed as February 24, 2020, to April 13, 2020.

The ship listed to do the drilling is still the West Saturn owned by SeaDrill, despite the fact that BPC is now going with ICE Max, owned by a company called Stena instead.

Some parts of the EIA seem to be so old that they were written several years ago and never updated since.

For example, it talks about a “proposed protected area” at Cay Sal Bank near the drill site. In fact, that protected area was made official back in 2015. Nor does it mention two more recently proposed protected areas, also near the drill site.

The truth is that the EIA is a poor study in general, containing tons of incomplete or irrelevant content.

For example, it lists more than 20 Bahamas laws that it says contain some kind of environmental protection rules, but says nothing about the specifics of these rules or how the company plans to comply. What is the point of listing them, then? Just to take up space one presumes.

It just seems to have been thrown together carelessly some years ago, then wheeled out and lightly revised for submission in February.

With all the extra information stuck in there at random, it seems like the point was to overwhelm the reader and discourage him or her from looking at the details too closely.

“Why do any of these technicalities matter?” - you might ask. In fact they matter a great deal.

For example, the original timeline limited them to only three weeks of drilling for a reason.

Offshore drilling is extremely dangerous and the longer it goes on, the greater the danger of a catastrophic spill.

If BPC is now allowed to begin now without a new approved timeline, having failed to replace the expired one, what is to stop the drilling from going on indefinitely? There is no new end date on paper anywhere, as far as the public record is concerned.

As regards the change in ships, the West Saturn carries special equipment aboard which is key to the original safety plan for drilling. Does the new ship carry the same equipment and can it carry out the new safety plan adequately? We just don’t know.

This is particularly worrying due to the troubling safety record of the new company, Stena, which was convicted and fined in 2015 for an incident that killed two workers in Australia. Stena was also responsible for a near disaster in 2016 when a falling 20-ton steel pipe almost struck an underwater oil well off Canada, which surely would have caused a massive spill. Have they disclosed any of this to the government? Was the new ship that will be drilling in Bahamian waters involved in either of these incidents? Again, we just don’t know.

With regard to using pre-2015 information on protected areas, this has allowed BPC to go on making public pronouncements that there are no important marine resources anywhere near the drill site, when this is simply not the case. In fact, it could not be further from the truth. The site is literally surrounded by protected areas and proposed protected areas.

Given the change in schedule, the change in drilling ship and the incorrect information about the protected areas, among other serious flaws, this EIA now out-of-date and must be updated to reflect reality. They must be made to resubmit the document for consideration and approval, or else it would make a mockery of our new Environmental Act. No drilling should be allowed to take place in the interim.

ESSY BOOTLE

Nassau,

October 13, 2020.

Comments

Porcupine 2 weeks ago

Thank you for this letter. For many, many good reasons there should never be drilling in Bshamian waters. Ever.

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ColumbusPillow 1 week, 6 days ago

Gentlemen, let be known that 6 offshore wells have already been drilled in the Bahamas over the last 60 years and there has been no misadventure reported to date!. Please do not panic, the engineering involved in offshore drilling has been perfected over the last 85 years. Mr Bootle what are your professional qualifications that provide you with a basis for your charges? A lot of Bahamian BPC shareholders would like to know.

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Porcupine 1 week, 5 days ago

Why not present us with your educational qualifications? A lot of Bahamians would like to know. Also, please provide any financial interests which may drive your one-sided posts, while ignoring the vast amount of knowledge suggesting this is a bad, very bad idea. The worst of the devastating oil spills have happened well within the last 85 years. And, if you've been paying attention, the last 5 years have brought about an incredible amount of scientific information that burning fossil fuels is downright suicidal for our species. But, the oil industry has known much of this science this for more than 40 years. They ignored it, and suppressed it They care about money, and money alone. How about you Mr. Columbus? What are your major concerns? The welfare of The Bahamas and our children, or your own pocketbook? That is a rhetorical question, since we already know the answer.

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JokeyJack 1 week, 4 days ago

You people are worried about the wrong thing. Every discussion about drilling revolves around the environment. That is indeed a valid concern, however, what concerns me is how is it that the MONEY is never discussed with this venture? How many pennies on the barrel does the agreement give to Bahamians - and will it be deposited onto our NIB accounts or will be be hidden away never to be seen again inside the Consolidated Fund (a favorite place for money according to Peter Turnquest whenever he is accosted about the whereabouts of the VAT money)?

It seems as if Bahamians are like programmed robots who are so used to getting the short end of the stick, that they just respond in kind.

If you want a MUCH bigger problem to worry about - why not keep the focus on the PAC commission which has been neutered under this and the previous administration. They are now limited to only investigating reports that have been tabled in the house (so I've heard). They are charged with keeping an eye on our money - and as many of your know - that is always a tough job in this country (and in all countries). Billions have gone missing from the US Treasure (21 billion i think?)

The PAC (Public Accounts Committee) needs to be brought back to life and both Parties need to answer for why it never met in like ten years or longer (it is rumored to have never met, and i at least have never seen a report from it).

Follow the money, and upgrade from Ramen Noodles.

The PAC needs teeth and so does the Central Bank. Anyone recall the pathetic "warning letter" or "advisory letters" they sent to Bank of the Bahamas a few years back. Just ink on a paper, so at least the stationery store got something out of it.

Two articles from not long ago (but long enough to be forgotten).

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Porcupine 1 week, 4 days ago

Jack, at present, there is no greater threat to humanity than our environmental crisis. It is a crisis. All indicators are flashing red, for those paying attention. With no Freedom of Information, no transparency, no accountability and a political judiciary, you nor anyone else will ever know where the money went. How much has been raised by VAT? Where did that go? See my point? I am certain that each one of us will soon be affected by environmental features not in our favor. Further, because we have focused only on the money, we have lost sight of the fact that we can't eat money. Business is a subset of the environment, not the other way around.

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JokeyJack 1 week, 4 days ago

Good points, but I don't think accurate to say "...because we have focused only on the money..."

Nobody has focused on the money, and it wouldn't even matter if anyone did because MPs are elected for 5 years with nearly no potential for change. We have no "recall" system here like many U.S. states do. We cannot do a petition to remove an MP and force a by-election.

So after Turnquest campaigned on "Where the VAT money gone?", and then once he was in, dropped the ball and said that the VAT money was in the Consolidated Fund and that was that - there was NOTHING the people could do. We could have gotten a petition signed by every single person who lives in East Grand Bahama (his district) saying they wanted him removed, and nothing would happen, because there is no legal mechanism in place.

In this country, we have basically replaced the monarch with little 5 year monarchies. Once someone become PM, they would have to do something really crazy - like try to shut down all churches or something really whacky for the Cabinet to move against them. The little man is shut out of the process. You basically ink ya fingah, vote, and shut up for 5 years.

The world is changing too quickly around us, for us to have these 5 year pauses in thinking and reaction.

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Porcupine 1 week, 3 days ago

I will double down on that statement, "Because we have focused on the money'. The love of money has corrupted every aspect of society, globally. One dollar, one vote, as in Citizens United case in the US. The rule of law in most every jurisdiction on earth, corrupted by money. The very ideas of capitalism vs. democracy. The "rights" of corporations, as people. Churches spouting the gospel of prosperity. The relations among families and family members, all over money. We have focused on money, here and elsewhere. We celebrate consumption. We celebrate criminals who became rich due to their illegal enterprises. Think the numbers house owners here in The Bahamas, who now try and paint themselves as "businessmen". You have no voice in Grand Bahama, nor does anyone else anywhere, due specifically to the corrupting influence of money. As for the judiciary. Put lipstick on a pig, and they are still a pig.

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