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Bahamas: Environmentalists question oil drilling “safety zone”

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Environmentalists who have been lobbying against exploratory oil drilling in Bahamian waters yesterday called it “distressing” and “concerning” that the government would move to establish the area surrounding Bahamas Petroleum Company’s (BPC) oil well as a safety zone and prohibited area.

On Monday, the government tabled the Petroleum (Operation of Facilities) (Safety Zone)(Regulations), 2020, which was made on December 24, 2020, establishing a safety zone 500 meters (m) around the facility and prohibiting certain activity in that zone.

Joe Darville, chairman of Save The Bays and Waterkeeper Bahamas, said while it is understandable that the area must be safeguarded from any unforeseen accident, the government must ensure that there is constant monitoring of the site for proper enforcement of environmental laws.

He noted that the exploratory drilling is a “potentially catastrophic, accident-prone venture” that forces the government to undertake the responsibility to declare it a no-fly or no-entrance zone.

“I would hope the government has assumed full responsibility to monitor every single activity of that particular venture that is going into the belly and the bosom and the breast of mother earth,” Darville said.

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