September 09, 2019
The Bahamas National Trust (BNT) continues to support the efforts of so many organisations and individuals, focused on trying to help our country, and especially the people of Abaco and Grand Bahama. We’re all focused primarily on the human element of this tragedy.
But while we are all focused on people as a priority, we are also conscious of the need to start talking about the devastating effects of this storm on the natural environment.
The Bahamas National Trust is particularly concerned about a major oil leak from the Equinor/South Riding Point oil storage facility in East Grand Bahama, as confirmed by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
We understand the company is developing a plan to deal with the leak, and a team from the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) has been despatched to assess the situation. The BNT staff is also attempting to visit the site to verify the extent of the leak.
This spill is of serious concern to the BNT. An already compromised ground water resource will once again be polluted with hydrocarbons that can have long-lasting impacts on communities and the people that rely on this water.
Oil also kills many plants and animals, especially red mangroves and corals, therefore exacerbating the effects of the hurricane on the nearby ecosystems.
This is particularly concerning for the three nearby protected areas, the Lucayan National Park, the Northshore and Gap National Park and the East Grand Bahama Protected Area.
BNT staff hopes to confirm the extent of the leak that is visible above ground. However, in the quickest time possible, the BNT intends to ensure that proper assessments of the full extent of the spill and impact to the wildlife, and a mapping of the extent of the leak into the ground water.
The BNT encourages the government to hold the company, Equinor, fully accountable. It is our view that Equinor must fund the costs of these assessments, all recovery efforts and to establish long-term monitoring programmes, to ensure the communities do not suffer from prolonged hydrocarbon exposure.