STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS AND WORKS
HONOURABLE MARK VANTERPOOL
AT THE LAUNCH OF ‘PETROLEUM SAFETY - THE SMART WAY’ CAMPAIGN
MARIA’S BY THE SEA HOTEL CONFERENCE ROOM
TUESDAY, MARCH 1, 2016
Smart Way Campaign Is Vital To Our Safety
The occasion for which we have gathered here today, may not be glamorous or even of immediate interest to many, but it is certainly one that can seriously and negatively impact the safety of many and the Territory at large.
With this in mind, I am pleased to endorse "The Petroleum Safety - The Smart Way Campaign", being established by Sol and the Department of Disaster Management (DDM).
As I understand it, the objective of this public-private partnership, is to promote the best practices and safe handling of petroleum products in the Virgin Islands.
As Minister for Communications and Works, I welcome this initiative, as a very important step in ensuring that safe procedures are being followed, when persons are handling gasoline, diesel, LPG and other petroleum products.
We have all seen or heard how flammable and life threatening these products can be, yet many persons handle or are exposed to these products on a daily basis and are not fully aware of the risks.
Unfortunately, we are not untouched, here in the Virgin Islands, when it comes to persons sustaining injuries from the mishandling of petroleum products.
You may recall several incidents in recent years, including one on Anegada and two on Tortola.
These accidents may not occur on a regular basis in our islands, but one injury is one too many and efforts are needed to ensure that we heighten the level of awareness and education among the population, about the proper use and transportation of these substances.
I am told that "The Petroleum Safety - The Smart Way Campaign" will address this.
Moreover, it is intended to serve as a proactive approach, to minimize the risk of injury to individuals and property and increase the public’s knowledge of how to respond to potentially life threatening situations, that may arise, when using these products.
The response mechanism is absolutely critical, because the reality is, that most persons know that the products have the potential to start a fire, but only a few are aware of the appropriate or SMART actions to take, if a fire starts while refueling their vehicles, for example.
I am pleased to learn that transportation of petroleum products will also be covered under this campaign, because the Territory has seen its fair share of mishaps, when petroleum products are being transported incorrectly, both on land and on sea.
In fact, in 2010 alone, nine spills were recorded, followed by two in 2011 and four in 2013; leaving the Government over $700,000 in clean up costs.
Needless to say, the funds spent responding to these spills, could have been better used on infrastructural development and other projects, which would improve the standard of life for residents of these islands.
Therefore, I would say again, that the Ministry of Communications and Works, is pleased to support the rollout of this campaign, as it reinforces the need for the swift approval of legislation, such as the Oil Discharge Prevention, Liability and Compensation Act.
The Act seeks to protect the BVI, its people and natural resources, by enacting safety standards to address issues surrounding the transportation and spillage of petroleum products and hazardous materials.
This Act has gone through several rounds of consultation and is currently being prepared for Cabinet’s approval.
Ladies and gentlemen, our very existence is highly dependent on a clean and safe environment and oil or petroleum spills will always negatively impact the environment.
Therefore, I reiterate, that I fully support any effort in preventing the occurrence of such incidents in the Territory.
I wish to commend Sol and the Department for Disaster Management for establishing this campaign that we are launching today.
My team at the Ministry welcomes this corporate citizenship and we hope that the partnership will continue for years to come.
I thank the management of Sol, represented by Ms. Liz Wyatt, for getting involved and making the financial commitment to enable the full implementation of this campaign.