You have nothing to fear!
That’s the word from Minister of Energy and Water Resources Wilfred Abrahams to residents of Christ Church, as the Barbados National Terminal Company Limited (BNTCL) prepares to embark on its first ever pipeline maintenance project.
During a press conference at the BNTCL’s Fairy Valley headquarters this morning, it was announced that the project will commence next Monday July 15 and is scheduled to run until September 9.
Trinidadian company Weldfab has been subcontracted to carry out the US$3 million project. The same company was also responsible for fabricating the pipelines during the construction of the BNTCL terminal in 2005.
In drawing reference to the Shell oil leaks that occurred in 1995 and 2003, in which scores of farmers from the Gibbons Boggs, Wilcox, Pegwell, Chancery Lane and Ealing Grove communities were adversely affected, Abrahams assured there would be no such fallouts from this project.
He also sought to distance Government from involvement in that disaster, insisting that a private company was responsible for that spillage.
He maintained the upcoming project was merely a situation of Government being proactive.
“I just want to disavow anyone of any concern that there is an emergency situation going on here. This is a good time for me to thank the ministry and the board for being proactive in the maintenance of what is a critical commodity and the infrastructure relating to it.
“This is a case of us employing best practices to ensure that the infrastructure is safe and the operations of BNTCL and all the related companies are safe and in the best interest of the public,” Abrahams said.
“We do not intend to wait until something happens and then do patch up work. There are no existing issues with the pipeline but
maintenance is necessary and we are doing what is necessary to ensure Barbadians are as safe as possible.”
He said the BNTCL was tasked with managing the storage of the island’s gasolene, diesel and aviation fuel stock.
The Minister said a comprehensive inspection of the Oistins and Woodbourne pipelines revealed specific areas where preventative maintenance and upgrades were necessary.
“BNTCL operates and will always operate under the highest international standards and seeks to ensure the safe and risk-free storage and transfer of its product in the pipelines,” Abrahams pointed out.
“This maintenance is essential and critical at this time, since unlike water which dissipates quickly through evaporation or draining through coral stones, liquid fossil fuel can leave an unwanted stain and impact which can be hazardous to humans within the environs. We all know the issues we have had in the Gibbons Boggs areas and we do not want a repeat where it can be avoided.”
BNTCL’s chief executive officer James Browne too promised that the state-owned enterprise operated by utilizing international best practices.
Terrence Straughn, the operations superintendent, said the project was in keeping with the recommendation that all pipes between 10 to 15 years old be inspected and maintained if necessary.
He said once this project was successfully carried out, there would be another inspection in the next two to five years.
The project will commence in Fairy Valley, before moving to Charnocks, Pegwell and finally Church Hill.
All work will be conducted between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and residents of the affected areas are not expected to be significantly impacted.