Environmental Alliance sends urgent message to PM

Sam Duncombe.

Environmentalists angered that the government never conducted what they claim is a “proper” Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) surrounding the proposed Oban deal have now sent a clarion call to Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis on the matter.

Environmentalist Alliance penned a letter to Dr. Minnis about the Oban Energies oil refinery and storage facility in Grand Bahama and how it will adversely affect the environment last Friday.

“EA’s mission is to ensure that the government rejects and discontinues developments that pose too great a risk to the Bahamian ecosystem and to advocate around the implementation of comprehensive environmental protection legislation,” the letter read.

In an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, ReEarth Executive Director Sam Duncombe spoke to the damning impact she said the project would have on the local environment.

“Many issues still surround the project – the fact that 750 acres of crown land will be given to Oban; the fact that it will have huge impacts on the water table, the seabed … ultimately 1,000 acres of land used for this facility – where will the oil go coming from this facility?” Duncombe asked.

“Grand Bahama runs west to east like Nassau does. So if you put in a refinery, the winds will blow all that air pollution across Grand Bahama.”

Drawing illustrations to the adverse effects the proposed oil facility will have on people, Duncombe said, “these toxic emissions will be harmful to the community”.

“So when Oban says they will be building houses for its employees at the refinery, I hope they are putting in some serious health insurance because those people will be affected.

“As citizens of the world, we must make sure that we are reducing emissions as much as possible.”

Pamela Burnside, another concerned citizen, told Eyewitness News that having a few jobs immediately will not bode well “when you’re going to be destroying the future”.

“More haste, less speed is what you really have to look at,” Burnside stressed.

“I think it (the Oban deal) was done too quickly without taking the time to dot all the ‘i’s’ and cross all the ‘t’s’.

“Say your sorry and make it right.”

According to Duncombe, the government should have had full disclosure on the Oban project in order for the community to “understand what the impact is going to be; good and bad, and that has not happened”.

“We’ve signed heads of agreement (HOA) without any consultation and that’s against the law,” Duncombe insisted.

“Planning and subdivision act states that any major development has to have public consultations; there has to be public meetings and that’s not happening and that still hasn’t happened.

“To conduct a proper EIA assessment will take more than one month to complete and environmentalist have conceded that it’s just not possible, although the government may think it is.”

One citizen, however, charged Bahamians, to not depend so much on the government.

“It is our health; it is our issues and if we don’t make a second avenue for ourselves, we will always be exactly where we are,” said the citizen who wished to remain anonymous.

“Always in the same position, always begging, always complaining and the more we complain, the more they ignore us.

“We need to put ourselves in a position of strength where they (the government) will listen to us and respond according to what we’re saying and stop being so dependent on them.”