Most Oil Spills Are Deliberate: New Law To Impose Stiff Penalties

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Thousands of taxpayer dollars have been spent to clean up oil spills and Minister for Communications and Works Hon. Mark Vanterpool announced that Government is pushing a legislation aimed at making guilty parties pay the cost.

Minister Vanterpool disclosed that Government is working on the Oil Discharge Prevention, Liability and Compensation Act to take through the process of Cabinet, and the House of Assembly. In fact, Mr. Vanterpool noted that the legislation will deal with oil spills, and will address any actions that have to be taken legally when spills are deliberately committed.

According to Hon. Vanterpool the legislation which was started by the previous government has gone through several rounds of consultation and is currently being prepared for Cabinet’s approval. “The drafting of these legislations was started by the previous government. The Act that I saw, the first draft was called the 2011 Act … We are trying to finalize it, and bring it to the House of Assembly eventually for debate and approval.”

In stressing the pressing need to get the law on the books, the Communications and Works Minister announced: “…the Territory has seen its fair share of mishaps, when petroleum products are being transported incorrectly, both on land and on sea…In fact, in 2010 alone, nine spills were recorded, followed by two in 2011 and four in 2013; leaving the Government over $700,000 in clean-up costs,” the Minister added.

“In my short time of dealing with these matters we had a few incidences; one was very serious in my view. One was right in the city of Road Town where a deliberate act was performed by pouring oil in the sewerage pump station at the Roundabout; which created a major spill in the Ghut along the way and causing major efforts and cost in cleanup. Most importantly the environmental impact it had on the town that we had to urgently avoid the oil being spilled into the sea,” the Minister mentioned.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our very existence is highly dependent on a clean and safe environment and oil or petroleum spills will always negatively impact the environment,” Hon. Vanterpool said.

Director of the Department of Disaster Management, Sharleen Dabreo blamed inappropriate transportation as a cause for some spills, and agreed that with Minister Vanterpool that the spill that occurred in Road Town was deliberate: “The majority of the spills that have been occurring in the BVI has really been as a result of inadequate transportation or willful acts on the part of those who are transporting especially waste oil. We had a significant problem a few years ago with waste oil sewerage waste that was dumped into one of the sewerage stations that had just been constructed by the Ministry; and that has repeated several times so there needed to be stricter controls in terms of how individuals access that station.”

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