The Bahamas is still recovering post-Hurricane Dorian. Rescue and aid missions are still underway, but it will be months if not years before the destroyed parts of the Bahamas are restored.
It’s been estimated that 45% of homes on the Abacos and Grand Bahama were severely damaged or destroyed. But Hurricane Dorian also impacted several other infrastructures.
An oil storage facility on Grand Bahama that was damaged during Hurricane Dorian, and as a result 5 million gallons of oil have been spilled. Equinor, a Norwegian company that owns the facility, previously reported that around 1.5 million gallons of oil had been recovered during clean up efforts. They now updated those numbers, revealing just how much was spilled overall.
How did this happen?
Hurricane Dorian’s fierce 185 mph winds blew the lids off of six crude oil storage tanks at the facility. Equinor estimated that the oil spilled accounted for around 6% of the total amount stored there.
“Most of the spilled volumes are within or near the terminal area,” the company’s news release said. “More of the oil will be recovered over the coming weeks as work progresses to empty containment berms surrounding the tanks. The calculation of oil spilled versus oil recovered will likely never fully match. This is due to the evaporation of oil and other natural processes.”
Aerial surveys thankfully show that no oil made it to the ocean. The Bahamian government was previously concerned that it had, but the suspected oil slick turned out to be seaweed. However, the government has stated that the spilled spread into wooded areas 7 miles inland. Equinor has 150 workers involved in cleanup efforts.
However, the Bahamian government and Equinor have come under fire since the spill. Hurricanes are not a rarity in the Bahamas, and specialist believes strong ones such as Hurricane Dorian will only become more common in the future. Environmentalists believe this is a sign of things to come, and that facilities such as these pose a hazard in the wake of climate change.
“We’re increasingly being shown that the behavior of these climate-linked extreme weather events is breaking records all the time,” Jack Shapiro, project leader with Greenpeace’s climate change leadership campaign stated.”And with that is the evidence that there’s no fossil fuel infrastructure that can truly be considered safe.”
The Bahamas has an incredibly valuable and vulnerable ecosystem. Natural disasters will continue to come, and it is up to the Bahamian government and companies such as Equinor to ensure that their facilities can hold up against whatever comes their way.