The government has taken the necessary steps towards the establishment of a Department of Environmental Monitoring and Planning Unit that will be responsible for implementing rules and regulations to prevent, manage and mitigate fuel leaks such as the one that occurred at the Rubis Robinson Road Service Station.
The government will also implement “long overdue changes” to the regulatory system for petroleum companies.
“Our government is serious about protecting the health and safety of Bahamians and the Bahamian environment,” Minister of Health Dr. Michael Perry Gomez said Monday as he announced the new regulation.
“Our work with PAHO (Pan American Health Organization) and other international experts, and our decisive steps towards implementing long-overdue changes to the regulatory system for petroleum companies, are evidence of that.”
Dr. Gomez said he is “personally committed” to working with colleagues and PAHO officials to ensure that the country’s regulatory system for the health of Bahamians will better protect all in the event of any future health and environmental issues.
The health minister’s comments came while addressing a press conference on Monday at the Ministry of Health’s Headquarters. The conference was part of the government’s commitment to have “regular and open communication with the community and other key stakeholders involving the Rubis Robinson Road Service Station fuel leak.”
Dr. Gomez announced that a report on the Rubis Robinson Road Service Station fuel leak reveals that there is no risk to the health and safety of residents of Marathon despite concerns from some quarters.
The report also revealed that during the leak, and since the leak, no residents have been or were exposed to dangerous levels of contaminants.
Tests further show no significant, detectable levels of contaminants from the leak in well water.
“In short, residents of Marathon are safe,” according to Dr. Gomez.
Dr. Gomez said the Ministry of Health “from the beginning” implemented actions that were aimed at protecting human health and the environment “and we continue executing this plan to this day.”
“The Department of Public Health is encouraged by the initial assessment and evaluation, but we fully appreciate that it will be necessary to do continual monitoring of the population for a period. To this end, my team of healthcare personnel – led by the Chief Medical Officer (Dr. Glen Beneby) – will continue to give this focused attention,” Dr. Gomez added.
Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for the Marathon Constituency Jerome Fitzgerald said the additional monitoring is being done solely in the interest of public health.
“We will work closely with the residents of Marathon through this time and ensure that everybody is informed regularly about any future findings,” Mr. Fitzgerald said. “The Government of The Bahamas took this issue very seriously and I want to assure the residents in the area most affected by the fuel spill that the report presented today confirms that they are not in any danger from the leak.”