Businesses continue to dump oil at sea – when will Government step in?

It is currently, and understandably, illegal to discharge oil into the sea.However, why is the practice of dumpingused oil into the sea so common-place? While lack of education on the devastating impacts that such waste would have on the marine environment does play a role, the system that is in place for oil disposal plays an even larger role.

To curb down on illegal dumping of oil in the environment and to mitigate the devastating effects of oil spills, Government in 2016 rolled out a new initiative to ensure that all waste oil is deposited at the Seypec depot. However, the effect of this initiative is that the disposal of oil in Seychelles, particularly for businesses that produce a lot of oil waste, can be an exorbitantly costly affair.

Hotels or other generators of waste oil are required to pay a fee of SR 6.50 (VAT not applicable) per litre of waste oil to the Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA) and a contractor “of your choice” comes to remove the oil from the premises. This contractor – who comes from a pre-determined handful of individuals – is paid SR 4.50 per litre of waste oil being transported through the middleman (ie LWMA). It is mandatory to go through a contractor, even if the oil is being transported 10 minutes down the road. The fee is even higher if a VAT-registered contractor is contracted to transport the oil. The oil is then deposited at Seypec, which in turn charges SR 2.00 per litre. These fall part of the SR 6.50 fee per litre that is incurred by the hotel or waste oil generator that is looking to dispose of the oil.

For large businesses, particularly those operating on other islands, this fee renders the safe disposal of waste oil an unappealing prospect, with many preferring to take the dodgy route by dumping the oil out at sea. To put things into perspective, if a business wants to do the right thing and deposit 25 drums of used engine oil, at SR 6.50 per litre (and a drum has a capacity of 208 litres), then the business is looking at forking out SR 33, 800/- just to dispose of waste oil. It works out to SR 1352/- for a single drum of oil. This fee is on top of the thousands of rupees that the business owners on other islands would have to pay for a landing craft or to transport these drums of oil waste via boat. Particularly during this COVID-19 era, is this viable? How much of an incentive is this for businesses to do the right thing?