As Bahamas Petroleum Company (BPC) moves ahead with its exploratory well drilling next month, an environmental activist yesterday called it “lunacy” that the government is allowing the drilling, particularly after one of the largest oils spills occurred in the country during Hurricane Dorian seven months ago.
Save the Bays Chairman Joe Darville said it makes no sense that the government would allow oil drilling while its most recent oil spill hasn’t been fully remediated. “This is not exploration, they have done all their exploration. They can tell you exactly how many barrels of oil they can draw from the guts of Mother Earth in our archipelagic nation. So, there’s no mystery included in that. But, the thing that’s really disturbing is the fact that there is total blackout silence from my government, my FNM government, that is now in the midst of a catastrophic situation with Hurricane Dorian and a catastrophic spill of oil, 55,000 barrels of oil spilled in our pristine environment on Grand Bahama,” he told Guardian Business yesterday.
“Yet, they’re not saying anything to comfort the people. We don’t hear anything about the fund that was supposed to be set up for Bahamians, we hear nothing about that. All I’m saying is that this is counting with the most catastrophic possibility of an oil spill. It’s not a matter of if, it’s just a matter of when this will happen. And the sea level rise and the type of phenomenal Category 5 hurricanes we’re having, it is lunacy to even dream of drilling for oil in our waters.”
BPC is in the process of bringing a drill rig to The Bahamas, which is expected to be set up in Bahamian waters this month ahead of the first drill of a well in April. Last month, when asked if all environmental checks were complete ahead of drilling, Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira said “fine details” were being polished off to ensure contingency plans are in place and that “assurances and insurances have been paid and memberships to crucial networks and responders are there”.
Darville said it was less than a year ago that the minister invited him along with other environmental groups to get their perspective on the oil drilling and, at the time, every local environmental group opposed the drilling.
“So, again, if all the environmental groups are called together now, we would have the same stance and even more adamantly. No. It is foolish. It is an absurd idea. It is a ridiculous idea. It’s coming with the most catastrophic accident that could happen in our waters,” he said.
“From what I am gathering, Florida is also extremely antsy about the possibility of drilling for oil next to their border between here and Florida.” U.S. Senator Marco Rubio last month said he expects “that the Trump administration will not act to oppose or defeat my efforts to extend the offshore drilling moratorium in the eastern Gulf of Mexico beyond its current expiration in 2022”.
“I will continue to use my seat on the Appropriations Committee to ensure the actions of the Department of the Interior regarding Florida match our state’s interests. When all is said and done, I am confident that the ban on oil drilling off of Florida’s coasts will remain in place.”
The well BPC intends to drill, called Perseverance #1, is 91 miles east of Andros Island and less than 300 miles south of the Florida coast.
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