From BFP’s Archives: California Bans Dry-Cleaning Chemical – Barbados Government Withholds Secret Report On Louis Lynch School Environmental Disaster

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


Filed under Barbados, Business, Environment, Politics & Corruption

15 responses to “From BFP’s Archives: California Bans Dry-Cleaning Chemical – Barbados Government Withholds Secret Report On Louis Lynch School Environmental Disaster

  1. Jerome Hinds

    RoyalRumble, here is another report you need to bring to the public’s attention…..!!!

  2. reality check

    how close is the dry cleaning company and how did they or do they dispose of their chemicals? Who owns? Whose riding?

    I guess that would be in the report that we are not allowed to see—just pay for.

  3. John

    On the cynical side, I note the new $70 million Judicial Centre is just a stone’s throw from the location.

    While we are on matters judicial, how much was the new $146million jail supposed to have cost originally and who is building it?

  4. Dell three asked important questions.
    Lynette Eastmond has returned. Maybe she secured another confrence room. Sorry Lynette couldnt help myself with that

    Lynette please address the questions of these goodly citizens.

  5. hotfoot

    Speaking of carcinogens, does anyone recall an article in The Nation donkey yrs ago – I mean like mid-80s or so – about St Lucia rejecting a shipment of flour from Bim? Apparently Bdos, Lucia and most other Caricoms had signed on to a global treaty against the use of a bleaching process for flour which had been determined to cause cancer. The deal was to use safer bleaching alternatives, even though the final results would not be as snowy-white as the customer was used to seeing in flour.

    According to this Nation article, a major flour producer in Bim elected to continue using the carcinogen so as not to compromise the aesthetics of the finished product. When the flour reached St Lucia and was tested, it was turned back.

    This article appeared one day and vanished without a trace the next. No follow-up, nada. Keep in mind that this was before the advent of the Internet. But it has stayed in my mind forever, for a number of reasons.

    Cancer rates in this country have reached stratospheric proportions. They are so alarmingly high that many researchers around the world now look to Barbados for clues about the pathology of the disease in a small, controlled but disproportionately affected population. Anecdotally there probably is not a single man, woman or child in or from this country who has not been personally touched by cancer. At the time this article appeared, my own mother was just recovering from cancer treatment. We were among the fortunate – I’ve lost count of the number of friends, and parents of friends, who have succumbed to the disease one after another, like dominoes.

    Add to this the prominence of flour as a staple in our Bajan diet, and it all starts to make sense to a cynical mind – the unchecked prevalence of this disease and the eerie silence following such a potentially groundbreaking bit of information.

    Am I whistling in the dark, or does anybody else recognise this tune?

  6. John

    Is it equally likely to find the occurrence of cancer at any location in Barbados or are specific locations more likely?

    Is a person living in St. Lucy as likely to develop cancer as one living in Christ Church?

    What about the types of cancer, are they spread evenly around the island? Is a woman in St. Lucy as likely to develop breast cancer as one in Christ Church, or a man in St. Lucy as likely to contract prostate cancer as one in Christ Church?

    Always wondered about this distribution.

  7. Chicago

    Nothing has changed except the government. BLP is now DLP, but nothing changed. We only have one political party in Barbados: the BLP/DLP party.

  8. crossroads

    Too far north is south. California is the enviromental capital of the world, and my opinion is that the state is full of a lot of paranoid people. They more than likely have the greatest banned list in the usa, never mind the drugs like botox and silicone tits they are pumping into their bodies. The state of “utopia”. Dont get me wrong, the dry cleaning company should not have been where it is, above a school and homes, but we got to find balance.

  9. Stressed Out

    IMO the environment is at the bottom of the list in this country, here are some examples:

    1. No emission standards.
    2. No littering/dumping laws.
    3. No recycling laws.
    4. No laws regarding the excessive use of pesticides.

    And you know what the average Bajan doesn’t care about these things and everyone else is here for a short while and doesn’t care either.

    The other day my coworker asked me to pick up a juice for him that comes in a Tetrapak– I refused and told him why. In the end I bought it for him, but he could have cared less. It is time to wake up people soon there will be nothing left but a polluted water system and littered highways.

  10. You know what

    Hotfoot makes a lot of sense.

    It would be interesting to find out more about this bleaching agent in flour. Could someone provide more on info on this matter?

    Given the high cancer rates in Barbados there must be a common agent. Is it the water, possibly contamination of the undergroung water supply, radio antennae (black rock?); or the flour as we are now hearing. Could someone shed some light?

  11. rhubarb

    Are all dry cleaning firms on the island being monitored for the chemical agents being used?

  12. Stressed Out

    Nobody is monitoring anything!!!

  13. Goddard

    The dry cleaning company is owned by the Goddard group of companies and managed by jeffrey hoyte and his son.

  14. crossroads

    No Rihanna at Grammys tonite, rumor has it she is not well enough to perform

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