Bahrain to have oil spill disaster plan
Manama, June 21, 2010
Bahrain will soon have a new contingency plan to manage an oil spill disaster in light of the massive leak at the British Petroleum oil rig off the Gulf of Mexico.
The updated plan will be tested out during a comprehensive drill immediately after Ramadan in September, said Public Commission for the Protection of Marine Resources, Environment and Wildlife director-general Dr Adel Al Zayani.
'Bahrain is greatly concerned by what has happened in the US and, God forbid, if that happens here, we have to be ready,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'Very sophisticated equipment that we have will also be tested and any flaws in the plan will be ironed out and all gaps sealed.'
Dr Al Zayani was speaking following an opening ceremony of a five-day training workshop as part of Bahrain's responsibility towards the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
The event is organised by the commission at the Diplomat Radisson Blu Hotel, Residence and Spa.
'The private sector and large industrial companies as well as various ministries have joined hands in the setting up of the new plan. We will test it out soon to see if everything is working accordingly,' said Dr Al Zayani.
'Bahrain does not have any offshore rigs, but there are plenty round the corner.
'A disaster could be just a few miles away, so we cannot be complacent.'
He said Bahrain was a signatory to the International Convention on Oil Pollution Preparedness, Response and Co-operation (OPRC) as well as the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution From Ships (Marpol) and co-operates with them on any preparedness plans.
Dr Al Zayani said four major oil spills have been reported in Bahrain, so the country was not a stranger to managing such incidents.
The latest major spill hit the coast of Bahrain late February in 1988, when patches of oil were first noticed on the water surface along the North West area of the island.
The accumulation of heavy tar was noticeable on most of the shores by April, 1988.
'Then there was the oil spill in January 1991, caused as a result of the Iraq war which, though it did not harm Bahrain in any way, made us very vigilant.'
US experts believe between 35,000 and 60,000 barrels of oil are spewing into the Gulf of Mexico every day from a ruptured wellhead, and creeping ashore in four southern states, shutting down the fishing industry and sullying tourist beaches.
BP executives agreed after talks with US President Barack Obama last week to set up a $20 billion escrow fund to help pay for the clean-up and compensation claims from residents facing economic ruin.
Officials said on Friday that BP was now containing more of the spill as it works towards capping it for good.-TradeArabia News Service