Equinor estimates another six months for oil spill cleanup

Equinor estimates another six months for oil spill cleanup

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Equinor has begun to demobilize its heavy machinery as oil spill recovery efforts on Grand Bahama shift focus to the nearby impacted forest for the next six months.

The company – formally known as Statoil – confirmed that 55,000 barrels of oil spilled at the South Riding Point facility in East Grand Bahama during the passage of Hurricane Dorian.

Speaking to Eyewitness News on the status of that clean-up effort, Equinor’s Country Manager Tanya Rigby-Seymour said: “All the free-standing oil and oil liquid, that has all been recovered.

“There will always be a few residuals, kind of very tacky sticky oil that’s weathered out there and we’ll leave that up to the environment such as the rain and the sun that will take care of that.

“That we can’t actually take up but the majority almost all of the free-standing oil has been recovered.” Rigby-Seymour explained that the company has recovered just over 58,000 barrels of oily liquid which is made up of oil and rainwater.

Last month, Save The Bays claimed water testing conducted at five locations near the facility, indicate critical wetland habitats have been contaminated. STB raised concerns that contamination will eventually make its way into freshwater resources, as the wetlands serve to filter water before it enters the water table.

However, Minister of Environment Romauld Ferreira told Eyewitness News last week that the
first round of testing from wells monitoring the spill revealed there has been no groundwater
contamination.

The company confirmed this in a statement yesterday.

“Equinor has initiated a surveillance and monitoring program to ensure quality of the
groundwater in the areas impacted by the oil spill from the terminal after the impact of
hurricane Dorian,” the company said. “The first testing from 22 monitoring wells has now been completed without detection of any groundwater contaminant from the oil spill.

“There is no detectable concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons and no detectable
concentrations of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene or xylene.

“Substantial seawater impacts are detected in the groundwater due to the flooding
experienced at The Bahamas during the hurricane.

“Groundwater flow direction testing confirms that the groundwater does not flow towards any
settlements in the area.

“Additional groundwater wells will be drilled going forward.”

Equinor added that independent analysis of the groundwater samples will be conducted by the
Department of Environmental Health Services in the Ministry of Environment and Housing.”

Asked yesterday about the impact of the oil spill on nearby wildlife, Rigby-Seymour said the
company hasn’t seen any impacted animals in over a month since they found a turkey vulture.

“The oil it’s weathered, it’s tacky, so it’s less of a risk to the wildlife as it is now,” she continued.
“As far as the environmental impact, we still have the forest that has the oil on the trees and
some of the shrubs. That’s our focus going forward.

“So we estimate probably we will be in there in the area north of the terminal for probably
another six months, manually pruning and sheering the trees, the oil vegetation.”

At its peak, the company had over 350 people involved in the oil spill response.

“About 40 percent were local that we took on and that’s outside of our 54 employees that we
have employed,” Rigby-Seymour noted.

“We have not let go of any employees and we will continue to employ them throughout.”
She added that the company does not know as yet the operation costs for cleanup and
recovery efforts.

“Our focus has been really to clean up to quantify the impact on the ground water which we
now know, and just to try to return the environment as close as possible back to where it was
before this occurred,” she said.