PHILIPSBURG:--- At the Council of Ministers press briefing the Minister of VROMI Egbert Jurendy Doran said that two days ago the Ministry was notified of an oil spill on the ring road. Upon investigating, it was found that persons had loaded a container with used motor oil. The method used to hold this oil was a very large plastic-lined canvas-type bag. At some point, this bag broke releasing an estimated 500 -600 cubic feet of oil. The environmental damage caused by this was immediately addressed by the Ministry. The leak was contained using a sand barrier while the oil was sucked up by a pump truck. Also on hand to assist were persons from the nature foundation as needless to say there was a risk for wildlife in the area as well.
The work continues as we now must scrape away all affected soil and replace it. We also are busy removing damaged shrubs and other plant life so that there is no residual oil. This is a huge undertaking and I thank those who responded to assist.
He mention that the department has identified the persons who are responsible, including the shipping company to whom the container is leased. Doran said he is completely baffled as to why people would have even placed a container of hazardous material on the ring road. This container, which to my understanding originated in Sint Eustatius. The shipping line and owners of the contents were notified by Government and representatives were on the scene. It was made clear to them that they would bear the cost of the clean-up.
This incident is in line with my wish to see government lands free of shipping containers and other debris. We have spent a lot of time and money cleaning up the ring road, yet over the last few weeks, we have noticed that some feel it is a dumping ground or free storage area.
The Minister said he would continue the efforts on his end to ensure that this practice stops and persons are made to pay for their carelessness and lack of respect. We have already started the process to remove Shipping containers, Chassis, and the like from the roadsides. Persons are reminded that they should spot their containers safely on their own property. The government will hold persons breaking this request responsible and financially accountable for the removal cost. Furthermore, we will not be liable for damage to objects being removed or the contents thereof.
As Minister, he said he has seen actions such as this as deplorable acts and the persons behind them as ones who do now care for this island. These persons pretend to love this island but under the dark of night and behind closed doors, even container doors, do the contrary. The way the oil was stored and where it was placed without a safety plan of sorts is criminal carelessness. The Police were called in a report is forthcoming. Whether the owner’s claim of sabotage is real or not, it goes without saying that proper storage procedure was not followed in the first place.
This reminds me of the recent monument destruction. The government cannot and will not allow people to destroy the country and get away with it. “Yes, even to that I have not forgotten. I am awaiting the final report from Minister Samuel and the Monument council so that we shed light on this unforgivable situation.”
Some of you may know the story of Eli in the bible. Eli was a high priest who judged and led the nation, a person of status at that time. He however had no control over his sons. Instead of correcting them to the fullest for all the wrongs they were committing, he spoke to them but still turned a blind eye to their actions. God turned around and sent a messenger to Eli and as a reprimand, his family was cut off and his sons were dealt the ultimate punishment. Ironically it was a young boy named Samuel who came up after Eli to continue God’s work. To those in authority who masquerades by day, taking clean-up pictures at one monument probably knowing what happened at the destruction of another, I say it’s time to get the house in order. Again, I look forward to the findings of Minister Samuel and to the people of Sint Maarten getting the justice they deserve.