Has anything really changed in the two years since Barbados Free Press first published this piece on January 30, 2007? The laundry burned down but there are still no rules about the use and disposal of chemicals in Barbados. What do you think, friends? Has anything really changed? Let us know your thoughts…
California Bans Same Toxic Chemical At Center Of Louis Lynch School Closing
According to YAHOO! News, California has banned the most common chemical used by dry cleaners – which is the same chemical at the heart of the closing of Louis Lynch Secondary School in Barbados.
Perchloroethylene is to be phased out next year in California after a 17-year battle to have the cancer-causing chemical replaced. California declared perchloroethylene a toxic chemical in 1991, and since that time further studies indicated that it causes esophageal cancer, lymphoma, cervical and bladder cancer. The solvent, which has a strong, sweet odor, also can affect the central nervous system. (Yahoo! News article link here)
This same toxic chemical was found in the ground at the Louis Lynch School and resulted in calls for the resignation of the Barbados Government officials in April of 2006. At that time, Prime Minister Owen Arthur and other government ministers also came under criticism for refusing to shut down the school after years of staff and students reporting health problems that they believed were linked to a nearby dry-cleaning company. Citizens also presented Government and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) with a letter of complaint and petition bearing 1 500 signatures protesting continued classes at the school.
Barbados Government Withholds Studies On Closed School
The Barbados Union of Teachers and other responsible citizens have been calling for the release of all epidemiological and environmental studies performed in relation to the Louis Lynch Secondary School. The Government of Barbados has been withholding a major study since August, 2006 and has not released the report despite seven months of ongoing promises. Most recently on January 2, 2007, Minister of Education Anthony Wood said he was “not in a position to comment” on the Louis Lynch reports.
Typical Government Elitist, Arrogant Behaviour: Deny Citizens Access To Information They Paid For
Why withhold the Louis Lynch studies? Hey, this is Barbados – there are so many reasons to deny citizens access to information they have paid for …
– To protect government officials and ministers who might be seen as responsible for the mess.
– To protect the dry-cleaning company from liability. (Golly gee – I wonder who owns the dry-cleaning company?)
– To protect the property values of nearby businesses. (Golly gee – I wonder who owns the nearby businesses?)
– To conceal the fact that Barbados has no environmental laws concerning the use or disposal of toxic chemicals like perchloroethylene.
. (Heck, the government hasn’t been able to make Shell Oil do anything about it’s toxic spills. Why do we think the Louis Lynch situation would be any different?)
– AND FINALLY… depending upon how Cricket World Cup goes, the government might call an election soon, and the release of the report just before an election would not be in the best interests of the Barbados Labour Party. (Golly gee – Don’t tell us that the Prime Minister would put the interests of his friends before the interests of the country and it’s citizens? No Way!)
Without Freedom Of Information Legislation – The Government Can Do What It Wants In Secret
Once again folks – without laws about Freedom of Information, Integrity and Conflicts of Interest, there will be little that Bajan citizens can do to monitor government or stop the abuse of power that is endemic in Barbados.
This is not about the BLP or the DLP – it is about the citizens of Barbados instituting a system of checks and balances to keep honest people honest – and to throw the corrupt ones in jail.
For twelve years, Prime Minister Owen Arthur and his BLP government have deliberately refused to pass accountability legislation. Before the corrupt BLP, a corrupt DLP government also deliberately refused to pass accountability legislation.
The opposition DLP could, even right now, institute it’s own transparency and accountability rules and apply them to their elected members and candidates. They don’t have to wait until they are in government – and they shouldn’t, because they have promised such legislation in the past and then refused to implement it once in power.
IF an independent candidate declared in my parish, AND immediately instituted their own transparency and accountability rules to govern their own conduct – I would support that candidate 200%, and so would my neighbours.
The citizens of Barbados have had all they can take.
Nation News – Jan 2, 2007: Time To Tell!
Nation News – April 9, 2006: Resign Say Concerned Citizens
YAHOO! News – Jan 26, 2006: California Bans Toxic Dry-cleaning Chemical