Junior Minister of Tourism Hon. Archibald Christian lamented that the various oil spills that have occurred over the years have been costly to government and suggested that the $10.00 levy proposed from the Environmental Protection and Tourism Improvement Fund Act 2017 would assist in minimizing the cost.
“We have had a number of cases and instances where oil and sewerage were found in ghuts, oil and sewerage found floating in our water ways, oil and sewerage on some of our beaches; and in every single instance where some agency of government was called in to deal with the matter it cost money. In some instances it is very expensive, extremely expensive,” Hon. Christian stated in the House of Assembly on 18 April.
The situation of government shouldering the cost to clean up the various spills was lamented many times before and is also the main reason behind a legislation that is expected to be taken to the House of Assembly. The mention of the Bill was made in 2016 by Minister for Communications and Works Hon. Mark Vanterpool.
At that time the Minister explained that the legislation which is aimed at making the perpetrators of oil spills liable is in its final stages of completion and will be heading to Cabinet soon.
The Oil Discharge Prevention, Liability and Compensation Act seeks to protect the BVI, its people and natural resources, by enacting safety standards to address issues surrounding the transportation, and spillage of petroleum products and hazardous materials.
Hon. Vanterpool spoke favourably about the bill during the launch of a petroleum safety campaign on 1 March, 2016 and announced that there is need for the swift approval of the legislation. 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.
In stressing the further need to get the law on the books, the Communications and Works Minister said: “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.”
“…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.