The new Dutch State Secretary of Infrastructure and Environment Wilma Mansveld provided an update on Thursday, to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on the recent oil spill on St. Eustatius. In a letter to the Second Chamber, in response to written questions submitted by Member of Parliament (MP) Henk van Gerven of the Socialist Party (SP) about the oil spill and the consequences for the environment, the State Secretary explained that only a “limited amount” of oil ended up in the maritime environment.
“NuStar immediately started with the clean-up during the incident. A large part of the oil has evaporated and dissolved. Small parts of oil remains have washed ashore on Saba in various areas. It is not expected that this will adversely affect the ecosystem.
The cause of the incident is currently being investigated,” stated Mansveld. NuStar has been held responsible for all clean-up related costs as well as the costs to restore the damage, she added.
MP Van Gerven also asked which environmental and safety regulations were in place for companies like NuStar. Mansveld explained that the consequences of Nu- Star’s maritime operations were regulated based on the Maritime Management Law BES, for which the State Secretary is responsible, and the local hindrance ordinance of St. Eustatius of 1993. NuStar has requested a permit for the local government based on the hindrance ordinance which is expected to be issued early 2013, if the conditions are complied with. The State Secretary anticipated that the permit would be issued for the requested activities. The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment I and M supports the local government in this process. I and M is further investing in the expansion of oil disaster equipment in the region.
Mansveld did not provide a straight answer to Van Gerven’s if it was not “very illogical” to have an oil storage facility in a “unique and fragile” natural areas, but she did explain that the existing facility had been established since 1975, and that since NuStar took over the company, it has made investments in various environmental facilities. There are regular inspections by the competent authorities, stated Mansveld. Several inspections have taken place since October 10, 2010, including two on location. There is oversight on NuStar’s management and the involved risks. Asked about the possibilities of relocation, the State Secretary said that this was not her competence and that it was an autonomous authority of Statia’s Executive Council.
Source: “The Daily Herald” 2012-11-09