Department of Disaster Management urges caution in waste oil disposal

Tortola, British Virgin Islands, 25 September, 2013 (DDM) - The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is urging persons and business establishments that generate waste oil to be diligent when disposing of this waste product.

Director of the DDM, Ms. Sharleen DaBreo said oil spills are not only detrimental to our health and the environment but also expensive to clean up.

Ms. DaBreo noted that in the last 14 years, the BVI has experienced several land and marine based oil spills which have resulted in the Government incurring close to $1 million in clean-up costs.

“Cleaning up oil spills that could have been avoided with due diligence constitutes a waste of Government resources, particularly in the current challenging economic climate when resources are scarce,” Ms. DaBreo stated. “It is therefore important that persons who generate and handle waste oil be more cautious in so doing.”

The DDM is working assiduously with a number of departments to ensure that legal action can be taken against persons who knowingly or unknowingly cause pollution in the British Virgin Islands.A collage of some of the oil spills that have occurred in the British Virgin Islands in recent years including Nanny Cay, Duff’s Bottom, Leverick Bay, Road Town Jetty and the MV Vagabond

“The contamination and environmental degradation caused by persons who are responsible for oil spills cannot be ignored and they must be held accountable for their actions. Waste oil in particular can have a significant impact on marine life and birds, the water table and it can contaminate both soil and drinking water sources,” Ms. DaBreo added.

Oil spills are usually caused by negligence, the break-down of equipment, natural disasters or deliberate dumping. Oil spills can have devastating effects on the environment and on wildlife whose habitat is sometimes affected.

Waste oil refers to any petroleum-based or synthetic oil that has been used and which has now been contaminated with impurities such as dirt, metal scrapings, human waste, solvents, halogens or saltwater. The DDM advises that waste oil should be placed in sealed, air-tight, plastic or glass containers and taken to the incinerator at Pockwood Pond for proper disposal.

The DDM serves as the focal point for oil spill response in the BVI. One of the many functions of the DDM as outlined in the 2009 National Oil Spill Plan is to maintain a centralised record of events and as such, the department has to be notified of all incidents involving the dumping or spillage of oil or other harmful products that occur in the BVI.