Government is pushing harder to introduce an Oil Spill Prevention and Pollution Bill in the House of Assembly.
The National Democratic Party administration said it has a renewed drive to finalise the Bill in light of a recent court victory whereby government was awarded $221,935 in cleanup costs for an oil spill that happened more than a decade ago.
The Office of the Attorney General had filed a claim in the High Court of Justice back in 2012, seeking compensation for the spill.
The High Court only handed down judgement in the matter in June this year.
“The judge found that there was irrefutable evidence that the government provided services for the clean-up process and had to call on an external US-based firm to assist,” government said while announcing the victory.
Government described the victory as ‘significant’ and one that will now lead to greater attention on implementing legislation – such as the Oil Spill Prevention and Pollution Bill. Such legislation will be to support the enforcement of policies to prevent these types of events from recurring, government said.
The Ministry of Communication and Works already has developed a draft of the Bill, which will eventually be taken to the House for approval.
Government did not give a timeline when it plans to introduce the Bill, which has been in the making for at least three years.
The oil spill
Information from the Department of Disaster Management (DDM) said the major oil spill happened back in October 2006 and involved the Caribbean Transport Limited-owned MV Vagabond vessel, which had capsized in BVI waters.
“This required a national response under the direction of the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force and subsequently the activation of the National Emergency Operations Centre. The operations went on for days and involved a number of local and international agencies including those from the United States Government. The Attorney General’s Chambers worked extremely hard to prepare a solid case for presentation to the High Court judge and they were successful in their delivery,” said DDM Director Sharleen DaBreo.
She said the event, however, led the DDM to increase its oil spill awareness campaign.
This subsequently led to a considerable reduction in oil spills in the territory in the years that followed, DaBreo reported.
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