The country’s local environmental police chief said yesterday that his organization has not been involved in the ongoing environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the $5.5 billion oil refinery and storage facility for East Grand Bahama, by Oban Energies.
Bahamas National Trust (BNT) Executive Director Eric Carey told Eyewitness News, the BNT is still waiting to meet with the relevant parties to discuss the potential impact the proposed facility could have on the local environment.
“No, we didn’t meet with them,” Carey said in a phone interview, when asked if a meeting the BNT had asked for had happened.
Carey said the BNT has reached out to the Bahamas Environment Science and Technology (BEST) Commission to find out the status of the EIA.
“We’ve written to the BEST Commission and the prime minister to ask the status of the EIA, when it’s going to be completed, and if we could have involvement in it. That’s our next step.
“The prime minister said, the people in office who deal with the EIA, know what’s happening. That is what I got from his statement. He said he didn’t personally know exactly where it was but he did indicate that the environmental people, meaning the BEST commission, do know where it is. So, we’re reaching out to the environmental people – the BEST Commission to see if they can tell us where it (the EIA) is.
“We have copied the person doing the EIA, Keith Bishop, to get a status report.”
Carey said the BNT will make a statement once it receives the said status report.
Some weeks ago, Carey told Eyewitness News, the BNT wants to know how close the proposed project is to existing national parks and residential communities. He said, Grand Bahama has lots of underground caverns where remains of Lucayans were found and what are fresh water reserves.
“Some may argue that Statoil is an already impacted site and that its less to mess up but we are talking about expansion and something that huge… we just need to know … The BNT wants to be able to inform the process and help to inform as the environmental assessment takes place.
“We don’t want to wait until a determination is made without the expert input from the various organizations. We still have great difficulty in understanding how you could place an oil refinery anywhere in that area, is my concern … we not only have to look at the environmental impact but the people. Is it close to communities and how will they be impacted?”
Carey is on record saying that until the BNT has a clear indication of where the project will be located and its potential impact on the environment, its position to not support the project, will remain the same.