Company ‘not running away’ from its responsibility
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Environment and Housing Minister Romauld Ferreira confirmed approximately 252,000 US gallons of oil has been recovered from the Equinor oil spill in East Grand Bahama.
Ferreira told reporters ahead of a Cabinet meeting that he met with officials from the Norwegian multinational energy company on Monday and they had given assurances that the company was ‘not running away’ from its responsibility.
Category 5 Hurricane Dorian blew the tops off five oil storage tanks.
Ferreira said the company was still assessing total quantities because gauging systems were also damaged during the record storm.
“When Hurricane Dorian struck there was approximately 1.8 million barrels of crude oil on the site,” he said.
“That equates to about 75 million US gallons. That is what was on site. So far, what has been recovered has been about 6,000 barrels which equates to about 252,000 US gallons.”
According to Ferreira, Equinor has ‘quadrupled’ its staff to facilitate the remediation and recovery efforts.
“They went from a staff of about 50 and now they have 200 plus persons on the ground involved in recovery and remediation. Those persons are housed in two offshore vessels onsite. Equipment that has been mobiles in addition to booms and skinners, thirteen vacuum trucks, two helicopters and two boats.
Ferreira continued: “The ambient air there in order to protect the recovery team is being monitored for benzine. Benzine is a compound not safe to breath. That is being monitored by an external third party for independent verification.”
Ferreira said that while he had not gotten an exact quote regarding the cost of the remediation and recovery efforts, Equinor was ‘sparing no expense’.
Addressing the environmental impact of the oil spill so far Ferreira said: “So far, they did extensive aerial recognizance along the entire western seaboard of Abaco and Grand Bahama. They saw two areas of interest but they turned out to be seaweed. They used visuals and infrared technology to do their scopes. On land we can confirm that a goat and three birds were impacted by the spill.”
According to the environment minister of the 6,000 barrels collected, some of it can be reused although it will have to be processed because it was mixed with water and debris.
“There is about 12,000 cubic meters of sludge and that will be shipped out of country for final disposal in the US pursuant or under the Basel Convention because under the convention we have to confirm what we are sending to the US and they have to agree to accept it. There is about 750 cubic yards of contaminated soil and rock aggregate. That mixture will be treated by way of dilution, injection of microbes and aeration and then disposed at the Grand Bahama land fill,” said Ferreira.