Bahamas Oil Spills Prompt Call for New Law

Wednesday February 27, 2013

A series of oil spills off the coast of Grand Bahama island in recent months has prompted calls for environmental legislation in the Bahamas.

Attorney Frederick Smith writes that the country needs an enforceable Environmental Protection Act that would make sure those responsible for environmental damage or injuries to workers are held accountable and made to pay fines or face criminal penalties.

"As the Bahamas broadens its industrial investment profile; encourages large scale urban development; promotes all inclusive anchor projects by Bahamians and foreigners and continues its growth and development, it becomes more and more urgent for an independent regulatory body with teeth, to protect our often pristine, and always fragile environment," he writes.

Smith writes that legislation is especially important since there is limited space for growth and development on the island nation, and since oil exploration may take place in parts of the country.

Two oil spills in the recent months have involved the Bahamas Oil Refining Company (BORCO), and another incident in December saw a Mediterranean Shipping Company vessel leak oil off the Grand Bahama coast.

Some have raised questions about the government's handling of some of the incidents.