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FFOS: oil/gas firms abroad not allowed to blast like here

Published: 
Sunday, October 27, 2013

The survey will have a maximum sound pressure of 260 decibels (dBA). The threshold for human pain (auditory) is 130 dBA. A jet aircraft 50m away is 140 dBA. Why does the EMA consider “ramping up” (seismic explosive sound) with over 20,000 individual explosives, each of 260 dBA attached to the four cables under the ocean and ignited simultaneously, to not have a major impact on all life forms? (http://www.sengpielaudio.com/TableOfSoundPressureLevels.htm)

 

Petrotrin is making unfounded and deliberately misleading statements, and successive governments appear to have misdirected the Environment Management Authority (EMA) to side-step an Act of Parliament. The EMA does not require oil/gas companies to assess the environmental impacts of offshore seismic surveying, and this is simply wrong, and must be changed for the public good.

 

The Environmental Management Act is very specific about activities known to be damaging to the environment, as in the case of exploratory seismic surveys carried out by oil/gas companies—especially where there is mounting scientific data, and innumerable supporting data on the probable negative impact of such explosive activity: hence the need for scrutiny, safeguards and mitigation that an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) provides.

 

The CEO of the EMA is side-stepping the Certificate of Environment Clearance Rules (CEC Rules), and now, at this late stage, and after 56 seismic bombing approvals were awarded without environmental scrutiny—which arguably is responsible for the progressive decline of local fisheries—he is now directing the EMA to write “guidelines” for the approval? 

 

These “guidelines” are outside of the CEC Rules, and do not in any way consider the impact on the lower organisms of the food chain. What about the impact and effect on snails and worms, which cannot escape the bursting explosions of the air-guns? And how does this affect the larger species in the food chain if their food/energy source is destroyed? 

 

Why is the EMA and the Government not addressing this issue of high decibel seismic explosions with hard science?

 

 

FFOS has since July 2004 submitted to the EMA, and to every Government minister and Permanent Secretary, and to the Board of Directors of the Institute of Marine Affairs, IMA and EMA, two technical studies which we acquired from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation, UNFAO, and in August 2011 we engaged a professional to produce a technical working paper which consists of summaries of several studies done worldwide on the impact of the marine gun explosions, which are high decibel sounds, but the Minister of the Environment is deliberately avoiding the hard facts, and he is summoning a thundercloud of discontent. 

 

The issue of the seismic bombing will not go away until this avoidance strategy is stopped. Good public administration requires the EMA to require that Petrotrin and the other oil companies provide the following baseline information when applying for environmental clearance to conduct off-shore seismic activity:
1. What are the commercial fisheries in the Gulf? What are their trophic dependencies (food sources) and life cycle details? Are specific periods of the life cycle less resilient to noise impact?
2. Where are they located relative to the survey lines and at what time in their life cycle?
3. When are the primary/peak periods of migration and spawning for these species?
4. Where are the migratory paths and how are migration patterns affected when air gun seismic explosions are detonated along the migratory paths?
5. How are spawning patterns affected by the seismic blasts?
6. Provide a 2-D model of sound pressure in the Gulf, showing the distance decay of the sound relative to the sensitive areas.
7. Provide a monitoring programme to create some data on the impact of the surveys on the fisheries while it is ongoing.

 

With this baseline information the EMA could protect, as much as possible, the integrity of our fish stock. They would curtail seismic surveys during periods of greatest sensitivity and ensure there are corridors and sanctuaries that species can use to flee from the surveys, so they would not be impacted.

 

The foreign oil and gas companies (who claim green credentials locally) know fully well that they cannot do seismic bombing in Norway, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Venezuela without an EIA, inside spawning areas, at spawning times or on migratory paths. They simply are not allowed. This is because Norway is for Norwegians, and they will not be bullied by reckless oil companies, regardless of how many billions they boast on their stock exchanges, which they earn at our expense. Why is EOG, BHP Billiton, Centrica, BP and BG knowingly doing here what they know they cannot do elsewhere?

 

We ask that we are treated no better and no worse than our brothers in the developed world: with humanity, with the measure of science, and according to the law of our beloved Trinidad and Tobago. Anything less will reap a thundercloud.

 

Terrence Beddoe, 
President 
FFOS

 

 

Gary Aboud
Corporate Secretary
FFOS