NASSAU, Bahamas, Thursday July 21, 2016 – Residents of Marathon, a community in the Bahamian capital of Nassau, are waiting for answers, more than three years after a fuel spill in the centre of their community.
And more than a year after the government promised a full and frank explanation, they are no closer to getting the full details of a report on the incident.
In January 2013, it came to the attention of Rubis and the government that the fuel station on Robinson Road in Marathon had leaked around 24,000 gallons of gasoline into the ground.
Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who first announced the review in May 2015, insists that only the person who conducted the investigation into the leak can speak to its results. But retired Justice Joseph Strachan, appointed to undertake the review, has also washed his hands of the matter, saying that “in due course, persons who are in a better position than I will speak to the release of the report”.
For Joseph Darville, chairman of leading environmental advocacy group Save The Bays (STB), the ongoing uncertainty surrounding this issue is totally unacceptable in light of the grave danger faced by that community.
“Rubis and our elected officials knew for more than two years that Marathon residents had potentially been exposed to very dangerous chemicals, but made no public announcement about the leak,” Darville said. “When the truth finally came out, the Attorney General apologized and promised a full explanation of her government’s actions. Instead of providing answers, officials have done nothing but sow further confusion.”
PM Should Step In
Darville said that if both Strachan and Maynard-Gibson refuse to bring some clarity to the matter, Prime Minister Perry Christie must step in and explain what has happened to the results of the review.
“Enough is enough – the public is tired of excuses. The buck stops with the Prime Minister and he must ensure that the residents of Marathon get the justice they deserve.
“I have been fighting for the victims of chemical pollution for more than four decades and have seen first-hand the terrible consequences – from respiratory problems and skin irritation, to birth defects and outbreaks of cancer.”
Darville noted that in addition to the release of the review, Marathon residents are still waiting for follow-up medical tests, with many unable to get hold of their results from the first round of health screenings.
STB members have spoken out in support of those affected by the leak. The chairman said the group will continue to fight for the rights of the victims of the leak and all others adversely affected by pollution, unregulated development and other environmental hazards.
“The government is sorely mistaken if it believes official silence will make the Rubis affair and others like it simply disappear. Save The Bays, its community partners, and concerned citizens across the length and breadth of The Bahamas will continue to fight to ensure that the truth, justice and the rule of law prevail for the people of Marathon.”