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NASSAU, July 6th, 2015 – The Pan American Health Organization today provided an update on the ongoing analysis of the environment health risk associated with the 2012 Rubis Robinson Road fuel leak, highlighting that testing and analysis to date provided reassuring results for the citizens of Marathon.
“The Rubis Robinson Road situation is an example of the kind of threat becoming too common in The Bahamas and elsewhere,” said PAHO/WHO Representative Dr. Gerry Eijkemans (seen here). “At the request of the Government we brought in an independent toxicologist to assist in the assessment and to ensure affected citizens had the health risk information they need and deserve.”
Dr. Rik van de Weerdt, PAHO consultant, is a toxicologist with extensive experience with similar situations internationally. He reviewed existing reports on the spill along with the results of the ongoing health screening and testing in developing a preliminary report.
“We know there has been exposure to substances related to the fuel spill, an odour was perceived by residents and there was discoloration of well-water. But positively, we believe that exposure has not resulted in long term health effects,” said Dr. van de Weerdt, adding, “Based on the health risk assessment and the medical screening to date, we have no indication of a current exposure or long term health risk in relation to the Rubis Robinson Road fuel spill.”
PAHO also underscored the need for the Government to make concrete changes to the way such threats are managed in the future. Dr. Eijkemans urged the Government to advance new legislation to protect citizens and the environment, and new early warning and coordination protocols to ensure citizens and stakeholders are immediately warned of a real or potential threat to their health.
The draft report, which once finalized will be released publicly, will incorporate any new data from the outstanding testing of citizens and wells. Dr. van de Weerdt indicated that the preliminary results were encouraging but that it was important to establish a complete picture of the situation, both in completing the health risk assessment and in reassuring concerned citizens.