The final public forum on the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment Framework Plan and program of research and exploitation of hydrocarbons in the Adriatic (SEA) was held in Šibenik on Thursday, February 12. And the last day to submit your comments is Monday, February 16th.
I made the journey (2 hours on the ferry and 1.5 hours on a bus) with my two children, to let them see the ‘transparent process’ for themselves and hoping to be able to address my concerns to Ms. Barbara Dorić, head of the Croatian Hydrocarbon Agency (AZU).
The government presentation wasted approximately one hour going over their non-technical version of the plan, doing their best to convince us that really, we can’t see large structures that are 6km offshore, and they oil rigs will provide needed resting spaces for migratory birds. Unfortunately for us, we had to leave to catch the bus back down to Split before we had the opportunity to present our questions. However, I’m posting them here, in hopes that Ms. Dorić will respond.
Accessibility of the Study
Why was the Strategic Environmental Assessment not provided in multiple languages?
The Contractors are from US, Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia. Shouldn’t they have access to these documents in their native languages so that they will be fully informed of Croatia’s highest environmental standards?
The Adriatic sea is shared between Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania. Shouldn’t residents of these countries be able to access and comment on this study? Croatia is a member of the EU and receives billions in investments from Europe and abroad, mostly focusing on the tourism industry.
Shouldn’t all citizens, scientists and concerned organizations have equal access to this information?
Planning for the Inevitable Spills
The Plan for Accidental Marine Pollution, PLAN INTERVENCIJA KOD IZNENADNIH ONEČIŠĆENJA MORA created in 2007 is referenced numerous times in the Strategic Environmental Assessment as the procedure to follow in the event of any release of oils into the sea.
This plan repeatedly calls for the use of dispersants as the process for cleaning the sea of spilled oils. Appendix IV is a table listing approved dispersants in Croatia in Europe. In this table not one dispersant is listed as approved in Croatia.
The high toxicity of some dispersants, and their negative effects on fish, corals, sea turtles, birds and humans is well documented.
Does the Croatian government plan to do any type of study on the best, least harmful remediation plan for when spillage occurs in the Adriatic sea?
Spill Monitoring and Reporting
The SEA indicates that it is the contractors responsibility to monitor and report any spillage that occurs during exploration and exploitation processes. A study by Florida State University oceanographers, analyzing satellite imagery found that,
…manmade slicks were as much as 13 times larger than the estimates reported by oil companies to the National Response Center, the branch of the U.S. Coast Guard that collects information on oil and chemical spills in U.S. waters.
What steps will the Croatian Government take to ensure that spills are immediately and accurately reported?
Compliance with the Lisbon Treaty of 2010
The Strategic Environmental Assessment indicates that exploration and exploitation of Oil will have negative impact on the environment. The Lisbon treaty of 2010 calls for Union policy to “preserving, protecting and improving the quality of the environment;”
In what ways does oil drilling improve the quality of the environment in Croatia?
Climate Change and Fossil Fuels
You need to do the math!
It’s simple math: we can emit 565 more gigatons of carbon dioxide and stay below 2°C of warming — anything more than that risks catastrophe for life on earth. The only problem? Burning the fossil fuel that corporations now have in their reserves would result in emitting 2,795 gigatons of carbon dioxide – five times the safe amount.
Continued exploration and exploitation of oil is not only detrimental for Croatia, but for the entire world. While countries like Scotland aim to be 100% fossil-free in 15 years, Croatian beaches will be slick with oil and dead fish, and will be years behind other more forward thinking countries.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance reports show that global investment in clean energy grew 16% to 316 Billion dollars. At the same time numerous organizations and even, like Norway’s 850 billion dollar sovereign fund, are divesting from fossil fuels.
Why is Croatia not agressively pursuing investment in clean energy sources?