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Double Oil Spills Shake Terre-Rouge Estuary: Tougher Laws Ahead



Double Oil Spills Shake Terre-Rouge Estuary: Tougher Laws Ahead
Image source: Defi Media

The acts of oil pollution in the Terre-Rouge estuary, which is a Ramsar site and therefore considered extremely important environmentally, on January 18 and March 11 by two different companies, have highlighted several shortcomings.

Indeed, deficiencies were noted in terms of site monitoring and the authorities’ effectiveness in addressing this pollution on one hand, and in terms of the law on the other hand.

The site, which is a bird sanctuary, was first impacted by a leak of approximately 1,500 litres of heavy fuel oil (HFO) from the pipeline feeding Marine Biotechnology Products Ltd’s (MBPL) boiler in Riche-Terre.

A second time, polluted by a spill of around 1,175 litres of low-sulfur fuel oil due to a faulty valve in the fuel piping system feeding Washright Services Ltd’s (WSL) laundry boiler in Le Hochet.

Among the measures decided, amendments will be made to legislation to”hold polluters accountable for their actions” in case of oil spills and other pollutions.

The response capacity to this type of ecological disaster will also be strengthened. Regarding these two specific cases, in addition to investigations at the Terre-Rouge and Roche-Bois police stations, the Ministry of the Environment has also sought the Office of the Attorney General on the legal provisions that can be applied against the company.

In the meantime, a fixed fine of Rs 25,000 has been issued against WSL in accordance with section 88 of the Environment Protection Act.

The Department of Forestry also found that both companies violated provisions of the 1983 Forest and Reserve Act.

The ministry has initiated a parallel investigation to verify and ensure that sufficient measures are taken by industries storing liquid fuels to prevent any risk of oil spills.

On March 21, letters were sent to 112 industries, including approximately 13 located near the Terre-Rouge Rivulet.

Joint visits by relevant public bodies will ensure that the measures in place at these industries are adequate.

A request was also made to the Ministry of Labour on February 26 for a list of companies operating steam boilers and storing fuel in order to conduct on-site checks.

The Department of Forestry, responsible for the estuary, is also in the process of acquiring absorbent booms and placing permanent mooring structures for these booms to better protect the area in case of another oil spill.

A contingency plan dedicated to oil spills in the estuary is also being considered by the Department.

Source: Defi Media

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