Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oil Spill at Petro Cariabe Facility

A Dominican environmentalist has cautioned that Tuesday’s oil spill at the Petrocaribe fuel storage facility could hurt the marine environment.

Allthough the situation is said to be under control, former President of the Caribbean Conservation Association Atherton Martin has cautioned that it will not be long before the situation worsens.

Lead Fire Officer, Courtney Challenger says the incident occurred about 1:05am on Tuesday and the Fire and Ambulance Services were called in to deal with the situation.

The situation arose when the stands of a parked tanker filled with fuel, broke. According to Mr Challenger, fire officers who were called to be on stand-by used sand and other precautionary measures to reduce the spread of the spill.

He says the situation was controlled in time before diesel had reached the sea, and noted that this could have caused a hazardous situation for the coast and the marine life of the area. The fire officer complemented the speedy work of fire officers, officials of Petro Caribe, and the general public, in reducing the dangers, which could have occurred as a result of the spill.

The fuel storage facility is located near the riverbed of the popular Belfast River on the west coast of the island.

Dominica began receiving fuel under the Petrocaribe initiative in February after signing the agreement with Venezuela in 2005 along with 12 other Caribbean states.

Under this arrangement, Caracas provides oil to participating countries under preferential terms.


At April 22, 2008 10:44 AM , Anonymous Athie Martin said...

Hope that you all have been listening to the discussions this past week.

I guess there is an argument against emotion when it is something that is not so important to you. So wait for the EIA even if you seemed not to care about the fact that no EIA was done prior to placing the Tank Farm in a riverbed at Belfast.

It is easy to wait for data when one does not have to live with the consequences of irresponsible action by a government.

People here are focused as are most persons the world over on figuring out how to survive as humans. families, communities and businesses in the new world disorder.

We also did not have to wait for TALK of a refinery in Dominica to have an impact on Dominica. Spoke today with a Travel Agent in the US who has been getting set to market the island.

Guess what? Do you think that he is waiting on an EIA to decide on a strategy for the company? The very talk of an oil refinery has taken Dominica off his list before his clients take him off their.

An oil refinery that is too small to make financial sense? An oil refinery that will need only 10 trained people to operate the facility? An oil refinery that has to refine some of the most sour/dirty crude in the world? An oil refinery that will generate waste that cannot be handled even by large facilities? An oil refinery that will then have to place that waste in the local landfill?

An oil refinery that will not lower the price of fuel to the local economy? An oil refinery that WILL have health and environmental spillovers that we are not set up to handle? An oil refinery that is in direct contradiction to the stated energy policy in THIS YEAR'S Budget address and the Growth and Social Protection Strategy (GSPS) the current development roadmap for the country?

These may sound like questions but they are all facts. This may sound like emotional venting but it is all a determination on the part of a growing number here to prevent the destruction of the island. This may sound like a plan to STOP development but it is a plan to START the type of development that we have all talked of for years: eco-tourism, organic farming, health and wellness industries, education and scientific research institutions that create new permanent knowledge jobs, and so much more.

At April 22, 2008 10:46 AM , Anonymous Claire Hendry said...

Sorry brother, but you are on your own this time. This is the worst sort of investment Dominica needs and for so little return.

On my last visit to Dominica, I could not believe that the government would think that putting oil tanks next to two residential districts was a brilliant idea.

I agree that Dominica needs a lot of help and investment, but this is the very last sort of help it needs. Good luck with your campaign to stop the process moving forward.

At April 22, 2008 10:47 AM , Anonymous Chris Volney said...

Thank you Betty,

Informing the public of the pro’s and cons to the proposed refinery, is the specific motivation of interest to me. We are continuously subjected to one-sided arguments, which show little or no balance to the issues and how they affect our perception in reaching a consensus.

We need a balanced approach in the dissemination of information gathered to date regardless of where our support lies. If a viable economic opportunity has presented itself to the government of Dominican and its people, it is our responsibility (as citizens) to explore the potential it presents to the fullest. We cannot dismiss it solely on the grounds of its potential “worst case” environmental considerations in the form of blowing smoke.

We need responsible leadership from both the private and public sectors, by their initiation of, and our dissemination of, the various studies into the impact on the environment.

We need to explore and consider all measures that would be in place to deal with the potential occurrence of “worst case” disaster scenarios that could exist.

A constant barrage of innuendoes and fear mongering on the public, by environmentalist and their lobbyist is irresponsible at this time and may defeat a potential sustainable and viable industry.

A consensual agreement by both sides has to be based on the active participation by both sides in their respective presentations of the facts, as they have been researched.

Factual content has to be based on local environmental studies, not those of a foreign country who may or may not have implemented safety protocols that lead to their incidents of record.

Such opportunities do not present themselves everyday. This one in particular may not be suited to Dominica, but we need to go through the process in order to reach this decision.

We cannot just close the door because some gung-ho environmentalist say so.

I believe in due process and a negotiated resolve that has been based on dialogue through discussion of the information in order for a decision that best suites Dominica.

At the end of the day, as a group study, a congenital determination by all parties may decide that this is not for Dominica, a determination of which has been scientifically reached based on our environmental researched studies.

On the other hand, the right location with a minimal impact on our environment due to a worst-case scenario may prove a potential viability does exist.

For instance, one of the worst case scenario’s with regards to petroleum refineries is their use of hydrofluoric acid in their processing, which poses a great public safety risk both because of its extreme toxicity to humans as well as its propensity to form a toxic aerosol cloud when released.

A catastrophic event at any petroleum facility could cause a potentially lethal release of hydrofluoric acid, forming a stable aerosol cloud above the facility and surrounding neighborhoods. Exposure to hydrofluoric acid results in devastating burns, and pain associated with the exposure may be delayed for up to 24 hours.

If the burn is not addressed, tissue destruction may continue for days. Inhalation of fumes can cause symptoms ranging from severe throat irritation to pulmonary edema.

Again, this is worst case scenario and one that has not occurred to date, to my knowledge.

At April 22, 2008 10:49 AM , Anonymous Shirley Allan said...

Hey Chris,
looks like you are a lone ranger on this issue. Who cares? the people who do have been terrorized, intimidated and ostracized, beaten into submission or given up and resigned to letting chips fall where they may.

At April 23, 2008 4:19 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Craziness and more craziness, everyone just sit back and watch1


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