During a townhall meeting held the evening of Tuesday, June 5, 2018, the residents of Murphy Town discussed and reacted to the proposed addition of more fuel storage tanks by Sun Oil at the Shell location near Parker’s Landing.
A panel of Sun Oil delegates, including the General Manager, Mr. Dexter Adderley, were introduced to the assembly by Murphy Town Committee Chairman Gilbert Davis.
Clenton Rolle, Deputy General Manager, Keith Bishop, Consultant for Sun Oil, as well as several engineers employed by the company for several years, locally and in Nassau, took their place at a head table, facing a room-full of residents.
Senior Island Administrator Maxine Duncombe was also present.
It was the second time in a couple of years that Sun Oil representatives appealed to the residents of Murphy Town for the permission of letting them install more tanks on their Shell Road / Parker’s Landing location. They were rebutted the first time, and again on June 5.
The strongest concern of the residents was safety, especially in case of fire; since there is no Fire Truck or hydrants in Murphy Town; the second argument was against the traffic of the trucks constantly carrying fuel to BPL’s Wilson City Power Plant and other locations. Traffic, some residents said, did not belong in a residential community. There have also been several instances of fuel leaking from the trucks on local streets. Another point raised was the potential health hazard caused by the fumes.
The arguments of Sun Oil were that with increased demand for fuel on the island it was now imperative that the company acquired more storage.
“With more employment, more tourism and therefore more demand, the present storage is not sufficient,” explained Mr. Adderley. He also expressed his pride in the company’s presence in Murphy Town since 1983. He introduced Mr. Rolle as well as the other representatives of the company.
Mr. Rolle described the structure of the Murphy Town’s location which he said, included besides the tanks, a fire pump system, a hydrant and sprinklers as well as fire extinguishers. He cited rough weather as an impediment for delivering fuel, hence another reason for the necessity of increased storage. He explained that he would like to have at least two weeks of inventory.
Instead of a large 600,000 gallon container as proposed in the last meeting, he said that the company had made a compromise of adding four 125,000 gallons tanks.
He announced that he would like to have these tanks in place before the hurricane season but that installation could still move quickly after the approval was received. It would take four months to complete the project, hopefully beating the heightened hurricane window of September / October.
He was then faced questions on safety and other concerns.
A resident said that he did not notice a fire hydrant on the premises – apparently it had broken down, but it was recently replaced and currently in working order.
Someone asked what the company’s “Plan B” was if the project was not approved. Mr. Adderley answered saying that there was no Plan B. He added that they were under contract with BPL for distribution to all the family islands and that there was no other option but to increase the storage in Murphy Town. It was not up to Sun Oil to make an alternative decision.
Several residents then addressed Mr. Rolle asking him to establish a Plan B as they did not forsee community buy-in with the expansion. They mentioned the original plan, when Bunker C fuel was proposed and rejected, to have the distribution located near Wilson City. They urged the company to pursue this arrangement.
Abaco is the only island that trucks the fuel to BPL, they argued, asking if there was any consideration to install a pipeline.
The discussion went back and forth between Sun Oil representatives and the residents, many of whom strongly stated that not only did they not want more tanks, but that they would like the company to move altogether to another location.
The atmosphere became a little tense between the two parties, Mr. Adderley stating that they would appeal and pursue the approval with another meeting until it was done.
Some residents in the assembly expressed frustration saying they felt that the project had already been approved and that the meeting with Sun Oil was only a show.
Pastor Knowles spoke to the Sun Oil representatives, saying that in his opinion the project did not belong in a residential community. He also asked them to consider what would be their reaction if the roles were reversed.
Administrator Duncombe, said that she was only present to ensure that the meeting was official. She understood that the residents did not want the increased storage tanks but that there was an environmental concern about the Wilson City location.
“If the decision is made that the project is not approved, everybody has the right to appeal. The Chairperson has to make the decision to approve or not; the company will have the right to appeal,” she explained.
The meeting therefore ended on a stand-off.
As of the June 11 Murphy Town Committee meeting, the Committee was not prepared to make a decision for Town Planning and agreed to hold a private meeting in the near future to discuss the situation further.