Past And Future Landslip Disasters At Barbados Greenland Dump Site


This Huge Boulder Came From A Past Landslip At The Unstable Greenland Dump Site

December 24, 2007

The Editor,
Fontabelle, Bridgetown

Dear Sir,

The issue of your newspaper of December 24, 2007, page. 40 (Back page), quotes Ramon Alleyne, Chairman of the Sanitation Services Authority, as saying the landfill has come in under budget, a fact of which the Board is proud. (See online article Green Light)

Mr Alleyne’s reference to the Greenland garbage dump site is misleading and inaccurate. Perhaps it is the Silly Season preparing for the 15th January, 2008 General Election, and the BLP is publishing political propaganda favourable to itself.

“These slope monitoring reports which go back years. . . .” They have been careful not to publish the actual readings. However, during construction going back to 1995, there was plenty of evidence showing evidence soil movement downhill over hundreds of years, including 100 ton + boulders, and having excavated the toe of the hill, we could expect that this would be accelerated, particularly after heavy rainfall.

“There was mention of abnormal rains we had the year before. . .” (This would be 2006). Rubbish. The last heavy rain we had was in 1995 when 5” of rain fell in a 3 hour period (when Carew, the calypsonian, drowned at Weston). In 1984 25” of rain fell in 3 days, 13, 7 and 5. There have been 6 heavy rainfalls of over 20” in 24 hours between 1900 and 2000, and the last was in 1984.

To say that the landfill came in under budget again is inaccurate. C.O. Williams Construction and the British firm McAdle won the contract and carried out the actual physical construction at the land site, which was purported to be $20 million. I have a copy of the Tender documents and the treatment of the leachate including the ponds, were estimated at $4 million, when in fact only 2 people quoted, Williams at $21 million and Ward $25 million, with the provisos that no engineer would design the foundations to hold leachate tanks, therefore no work was started. Mr Stanton Alleyne, when the site meeting for the Tenderers was held, said the opening date was April 1, 2008.

While on the matter of leachate which is that poison which drains from the garbage, at the current garbage dump site at Vaucluse, the cells are freshly lined to avoid penetration of leachate into the water table, but since there is no leachate plant to treat it there, the leachate is then pumped into Mt. Stinkeroo, which is on the Mangrove Pond site, and as there is no waterproof membrane on this site, it dissipates through the natural fissures and coral and ends up at Sunset Crest and Sandy Lane, and into the sea. This has gone on for the last 15 years.

The taxpaying public in Barbados have never been told why it was necessary to carry out a retrofit of Greenland, after $20 million had been spent on it on the design of STANTEC Engineering of Edmonton, and Canada-Carib a Canadian construction company registered in Barbados, and not one pound of garbage has ever been delivered to the site.

On the matter of the transit station to be sited at Vaucluse in St Thomas, the public have never been told what the tenders were, and I share this information with the public. C.O. Williams Construction – $9.7 million; Rayside Construction – $12.5 million; Brathwaite Construction – $11.5 million, and Goddard Construction was Guy. $1.

As an official Tenderer, I was not invited to the opening of these bids, which is contrary to public policy, as all Tenderers are to be invited to the opening of the bids. No public tender has been invited for the building of this Transfer Station, and I am informed that a select number of people have been invited. It is my understanding under the laws of Barbados that a government project of over $100,000 must be advertised and the submission of tenders invited.

No mention has been made of the road system between the Vaucluse Transfer Station and Greenland. The primary route would be through Mile-and-a-Quarter to Cleland Hill and on to Greenland. This road is in an advanced state of disrepair, and will slip in the next heavy rain if not before the time of the printing of this article. The other roads through Boscobel, Cherry Tree Hill, Baxters, Horse Hill or the Bath road, are equally all in an advanced state of disrepair.

Finally, the taxpayers of Barbados are reminded that over the years the Auditor General has made a careful audit of the public accounts, and in a number of government departments including the Ministry of Health, and the National Insurance Board they were unable to complete the audit due to incomplete records. The local print media should publish this Auditor General’s report in full, if in sections, as a public service, as the politicians, including the Speaker of the House, is careful to hide its contents from the taxpaying public.

In the bad old Colonial days, our colonial masters insisted that the public accounts were completed or no money was passed for that department for the following year. But public accountability is a thing of the past.

Government cannot deny that public spirited persons such as Prof. Bob Speed and Prof. Hans Machel, both geologists, who have studied the geology of Barbados for over 25 and 16 years respectively, have both said that Greenland is the worst possible site for a landfill in Barbados due to its long history of storm washouts and landslips.

Richard Goddard

* This article has been edited to remove three words that were being misunderstood by readers and took the focus away from the issue of whether Greenland is an appropriate place for a garbage dump and lechate collection.



Filed under Barbados, Disaster, Environment

26 responses to “Past And Future Landslip Disasters At Barbados Greenland Dump Site

  1. Rumplestilskin

    What a clear, factual and sensibly written piece.

    Pity the current administration is still taking the ‘my way or the highway’ approach.

    Ah well. What we sow, we reap.

    Pity the rest of us and our descendants will have to reap it too.

  2. John

    The amazing thing is that the GOB has spent millions of dollars and over a decade removing debris from previous landslips to make the Greenland landfill. Various spokespersons keep telling us that it is entirely safe. The simple evidence tells us the opposite.

    The boulder shown in the photo, like others in the Scotland District and the Greeland Landfill, was on its way to the sea. It was first exposed by excavation of other landslip debris, dynamited and removed.

    It may not happen today or tomorrow but one day, there will be heavy rains and debris from uphill of the landfill will come down and push the material that is in the landfill one step closer to the sea.

    If the material in the landfill included a boulder or boulders, eventually a boulder, or boulders will appear on the shoreline, like up at the Cattlewash, Tent Bay and right up to Conset Bay. The process is also evident at the other end of the Scotland District, by Foster’s Funland.

    If Garbage is present in the landfill, eventually this will reach the shoreline, and then the sea. ……. and if there is liquid leachate, it will get there the same day of the landslip, maybe even the same hour!!

    The evidence is there for anyone who wants to look. It is the result of a completely natural process which works well on boulders like the one shown.

    Cockcrow Rock by the side of the road by Cleland is another example, so is the boulder uphill of the Greenland landfill just before the treeline and the many others in the treeline that have broken away from the cliff edge.

    That natural process will probably work better on transporting garbage which is a lot lighter and easier to move.

  3. Mr Goddard says:”But, like slavery, accountability is a thing of the past.”

    This is an ill-chosen comparison in my opinion, because while accountability is highly desirable, slavery obviously isn’t.

    You catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and Mr Goddard might stand a better chance of convincing the Powers That Be of their obdurate stupidity in persisting with Greenland for its landfill, if he were to be more tactful in his wording.

    Confrontation is usually ineffective with politicians to whom losing face is as sacrosanct as it is to a samurai. Greenland is madness postponed, but we must let Government save face in moving discreetly to incineration which virtually all agree is the longterm answer.


    BFP Comments

    Mr. Goddard, fellow citizens and renowned experts have laid the technical evidence before the government for a decade or more. Being “nice” won’t help. However inelegant, I follow Mr. Goddard’s point about slavery and nothing he says indicates that it is or was “desirable”. I would even argue that we are still slaves to the new masters.

    Mr. Goddard was long ago ignored by the Barbados government because he is white. Government Minister Liz Thompson even told him so on national television years ago. You can view Thompson’s shameful racist comment on YouTube LINK HERE.

  4. reality check

    “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”

    How on earth could Barbadians continue to support such incredibly stupid and arrogant leaders and then permit one to be elevated to the position of Chief Justice?

  5. Green Monkey

    And I suppose the chances are that the Nation will have the intestinal fortitude to print this letter lie somewhere between slim and none. Isn’t it great to live in a democracy with freedom of the press?

  6. gunslinger

    i saw that article quoting greenland as “on time and under budget” and almost wet myself laughing.
    the propoganda machine is well and truly oiled and working and full throttle.
    if the BLP is right and bajans are this stupid then god help us all.
    newspapaers should refuse to print such utter rubbish. (puns intended)

  7. Roger Rabbitt

    We are dealing with an unconscionable lot. Can’t expect anything better.

  8. Sad To Say

    There needs to be a law holding the politicians (and/ or their estates) accountable for all of the decisions that that they make while in GVT loooooooooooooooong after their leave power. Greenland is a key example of a GVT project where politics have taken precedent to the advice of the technocrats. Another project that readily comes to mind is Port St. Charles. However, this utopian suggestion is unlikely to be readily embraced by the BLP, DLP or PEP.

  9. BFP- Your retort to my comment on Mr Goddard’s reference to Slavery as being ill-advised does not ring true, particularly with the election so close.

    Taken in the context of his paragraph Mr Goddard is clearly being ironic, if not sarcastic, when he refers to the “bad old Colonial days.”

    It is obvious he yearns for those times when our civil servants were of irreproachable integrity, and our politicians behaved themselves. Don’t we all?

    But right now it will be only too easy for BLP to say to the elctorate-“Listen to that white bigot Richard Goddard! He would like to see the Colonial Days return, when we couldn’t pig out in the trough, and the black man knew his place.”

    So- sorry. I must disagree with you in this Festive Season, and advocate tact even when reviling BLP incompetence at Election Time.


    BFP Comments

    OK…. This is Cliverton not Robert and I see your point. Goddard’s reference sets off sensitive areas that take away from discussion of the main point so he should have used some other phrases.

  10. Bush tea

    Your point is taken Naive, however I have a problem with the position that you articulate of always seeking to appease politicians ‘by not confronting them’.
    Generally it is only after years of beating one’s head against the political wall that private citizens resort to fighting against politicians. You can be guaranteed that this situation started with well meaning persons offering their best advice in the country’s interest and being ignored or sidelined – USUALLY BECAUSE OF HIDDEN AGENDAS on the part of the political decision makers.

    Citizens who do not really care about the national interest, and those without the required intestinal fortitude, usually give up at this point.

    Those who truly hold the interests of BARBADOS- get into a fighting mode to protect the county’s interests.

    This is the stuff of true HEROES.

    In Goddard’s case, he must by now be really fed up with this whole fiasco. I have no doubt that his ‘ill chosen comparison’ is a deliberate sign of frustration as a white Bajan patriot – not only with Government, but with the passive response of Bajans in general who like NAIVE, are only too willing to default to the self-serving actions of our Government – to the detriment of the country and future generations.

    I can’t but admire Goddard’s commitment, determination and patience with this issue.

    My only disagreement with him is his bid for the Vaucluse station. It should have been BDS $1.00.

    On the other hand, we have someone like Mr. Alleyne making statements suggesting that the site is ‘geologically stable’ because ‘they checked over the past 5 -10 years’…..It is people like these that makes one want to refer to comparisons with slavery….

  11. John

    …. Goddard Construction’s quote at $1.00 Guy for the same work bid upon by others for sums varying between $9.5 and $12.7 million indicates that there is no fat in there for kickbacks and the like!!!

    He is starting out on the wrong foot with the politicians, …. and long before any mention of the past is made.

    Is Richard Goddard being ironic?

    You bet he is.

    But he has earned the right to be.

    The touch about slavery and our Old Colonial Masters may not have been necessary but I read it as a plain challenge to the various politicians who are constantly ranting about the bad old days and not looking in the mirror or taking care of the people’s business diligently or responsibly.

    The $1.00 Guy seems to me to be symbolic of the utter rot that issues forth from the mouths of our leaders.

    Think about it.

    The GOB has spent more than a decade digging out debris from heaven only knows how many past landslips and is telling us repeatedly that the landfill is safe and that there won’t be any landslips, everything is stable. Sometimes I wonder if it even realises it is excavating previous landslips.

    It has spent millions of our hard earned dollars!!

    How utterly ridiculous, and yet it goes even further.

    Big able engineering firms, local and foreign, have charged huge fees to design the landfill for the Government and the big Construction firms of great “repute” have bid accordingly for the right to implement the engineers’ designs.

    This has to be the closest we have come to emulating the story of the “Emperor’s New Clothes”, and heaven only knows how many times we have tried!!

    Time will tell if Goddard Construction’s assesment of the value of the work at $1.00 Guy. will prove to be valid and if indeed, the Emperor is naked.

    It just takes some rain, for which we pay nothing!!

  12. Pat

    I always wondered where that round rock at Cattlewash came from and now I know. From Greenland. It is not like other rocks along the east coast that are grey, pocked and brittle with age, buy perfectly round and still yellowish brown in colour. This means it was not there for very long like the other coral rocks at Bathsheba and Joes River.

  13. John


    I don’t think Round Rock came from Greenland but who knows for sure.

    It is a puzzle for me too as I have not seen evidence of a cliff face uphill of it and there is the Frizers Valley going back inland. The whole stretch of Cattlewash beach has nothing like the boulders seen up at Bathsheba or down at Foster’s Funland.

    I could see the possibility of ocean currents moving a boulder parallel to the coast and rough sea pitching it up on the beach but the currents, I understand, are in a northerly direction so anything coming to the sea down by Greenland would probably end up going north.

    This has always been an argument against Greenland because leachate washed out from the site would probably go north around the coast, …. like what happens to the mud after a heavy rainfall in the Scotland District washes it into the sea, it always goes north, atleast, I have never seen it go south.

    I also understand that the currents along the west coast are oscillatory so it is possible for the leachate to end up deposited on the West Coast as far south as Holetown depending on the time of year.

    I am not very knowledgeable on the ocean currents but have a very healthy respect for its power.

    If you want to see another puzzle, walk north along the sea cliff from Harrismith in St Philip.

    Deposited close to the edge before the steps at Bottom Bay is a boulder like Round Rock.

    One theory I have heard from geologists which seems quite believable is that it got there as a result of a tsunami in the distant past.

    Moving bales of garbage would be light work for the sea.

  14. Bush Tea-
    I certainly did not intend to articulate “appeasing” our politicians in their costly stupidities, and I am sorry if that was the message that come across.

    Anyone with common sense can see that Greenland landfill is lunacy. We have to find the best way of preventing it.

    I do not think shouting what idiots and crooks Government officials are is likely to achieve this. Trying to find a more subtle solution is not appeasement- it is guile.

    I assure you I am not “willing to default to the self-serving actions of our Government” as you suggest. I am only anxious to find a way which will work, and recrimination will not achieve this.

    Do you berate a child who has committed a folly with shouted insults? No, you try to avoid further folly with reasoned explanation. Is that appeasement? Not to my way of thinking.

  15. Pat


    Thanks for the info. Some have suggested that round rock came from Hackleton’s Cliff, but I maintain, if so, it would not have ended up that far in Cattlewash. Bathsheba, yes – Cattlewash, no. YOu are right about the tides, they go north. So that any one drowning at Bathsheba always wash in north, usually along Cattlewash beach or at Joes River. Sometimes the tides go “down and out”: north and out in the Atlantic.

  16. Bush tea

    No problem , we are on the same boat and I do take your point. I was just trying to see Mr. Goddard’s side too and to suggest why he may feel as strong as he does.
    I still feel that after a while it is appropriate to shout at and cuss politicians who fail to understand that their role is to SERVE the public interest and not their own.

    Your example of berating a child is not the best one since we do not ask children to lead us. We put them in positions where their errors and childish behaviors can be tolerated, and be used as learning and character building steps.(school, clubs etc).

    Even children qualify for a good cussing after two ‘nice chats’ are ignored…’spare the rod..etc.’

    Once you take on a critical leadership role in society , one cannot continue to expect to be treated like a child…

  17. Question:

    Corruption is a topic that comes up regularly on this board, and quite rightly so, as all decent people want to move toward zero tolerance for corruption. However, because it seems to infest so much of life, how does one avoid slipping into an easy acceptance of corruption as an ever present that we just have to accept and live with ?

    I see this also in UK, Italy and, to personal loss, in Guyana. Should we be realists and accept that “everyone” plays the system, or should we hang on to fundamental moral beliefs and never accept it ?

    p.s. Even as someone who is optimistic about humanity, I thought this was a wonderful quote from the comments above:

    “Only two things are infinite; the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former”

  18. Bush Tea-
    Point about children taken and accepted. Perhaps I should have tried a comparison with training dogs not to dig up the garden with positive reinforcement rather than negative beatings?

    Smug, self-serving politicians are certainly closer to dogs than children.

    Long suffering hero that Richard Goddard is, his cause might have been better served if he had formed a committee of humble black folk in his community to serve as spokespersons for his worthy cause.

    Similarly Adrian Loveridge being Right But White on all issues he raises, automatically jeopardises the effectiveness of what he says. The people of Barbados do not want a White Knight coming to their rescue.

  19. John


    I always heard never to liken a Bajan to a dog if you know what is good for you, ….. a child you will get away with but a dog!!!!

    And yet, it never ceases to amaze me the nicknames Bajans give one another.

    Sometimes I look at the headlines in sports when there is a Road Tennis tournament to see the nicknames some Bajans earn.

    I remember a particular tournament when after getting to the final, a participant nicknamed “Snake” was beaten.

    The headline the paper chose was “Snake crushed in the road”. It was about the time when the snakes on the loose were causing some Bajans sleepless nights.

    Then I saw this one and was amazed at how Bajans react to being called a dog and yet are quite happy to nickname someone “Black Dog”.

  20. John


    You realise that you have paid Adrian Loveridge the compliment of being always right!!

  21. Yardbroom

    You have raised a very important point, earlier I wanted to make a contribution, however I hesitated for fear of going off topic, but because of the way the discussion has developed, I am now, not that way inhibited.

    The article by Richard Goddard was very good, and I read it with interest, until I reached the penultimate paragraph – now edited – which jarred some what, and consequently undid – in my conciousness – the previously good analysis of the writer.

    You might ask is that fair, how could a few words make that difference, they do, in the sense that we do not know the contributors personally. So we have to take what they write, as windows to their innermost thoughts.

    When I have dared to suggest in the past, reasons and reasoning behind social interaction in Barbados. I get the impression, it is best to say nothing about such things, but they keep recurring time and time again, when important issues are being addressed.

    I fear there will come a time, when we will openly have to bite the bullet. I earnestly hope that before then, we will have the courage to address the social problems, that simmer beneath the apparently tranquil society in Barbados.

    PS. I have no reason to believe anything sinister, about Richard Goddard personally, or his statement, I want to make that quite clear. I only refer to the words, and “my” interpretation of them.

  22. John

    December 28, 2007 at 2:45 pm
    Bush Tea-

    Long suffering hero that Richard Goddard is, his cause might have been better served if he had formed a committee of humble black folk in his community to serve as spokespersons for his worthy cause.

    Been there, done that!!

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  23. John- Many thanks for enlightening me. As the Scotland District Assoc. exists, why did they not sign the letter to the Nation (and BFP)?

    Anything with Richard Goddard’s name on it is likely to produce in the Authorities a knee-jerk reflex of resentment that nullifies the effect and veracity of his words.

    Incidentally, BFP, now that you have edited his bit about slavery, is it accurate to say this is what he sent to The Nation?

    I feel sure his letter has never seen the light of day in that spineless excuse for a newspaper, but that would be more understandable if his more volatile wording were still shown.

    Richard Goddard is to be admired for his heroic tilting at windmills a la Don Quixote. But I would like to see his lance strike home to greater effect.

    P.S. Sorry for being goaded by Bush Tea into implying by my analogy that self-serving politicians were closer to dogs than children. It was the greater effectiveness of “positive reinforcement” as a cause-and-effect method I was trying to emphasize, defending myself against charges of being an appeaser. Besides which I am very fond of dogs and think highly of them, so it is not a pejorative insult in my vocabulary.


    BFP Comments

    Hi Naive,

    I see that the Nation did just print a version of the letter. I haven’t compared them side by side.

  24. Bush Tea

    …what you mean ‘goaded by Bush tea….?’ How it gets to be my fault?

    …besides – i like the dog analogy…. (LOL)

  25. John


    I don’t know why the Scotland District Association did not write this particular letter. It has been silent for a while but it did do valuable work in its time.

    It took Owen to court for exceeding his power as PM shortly after it was formed in June of 1995.

    Given the strident calls for accountability from the politicians which appear now only as talk, it is apparent that the SDA, and Richard Goddard, were well ahead of their time and besides talking, acted to suit ….. all within the four corners of the law.

    The Physical Development Plan which was in force at the time (still is now??) which had been passed in Parliament in 1991 had allocated the Greenland area as a Zone 1 area for water catchment.

    This allocation reflected the recommendations coming from the 1978 Water Resources Study which recognised that all of the easily available water supply in the coral area would have been utilised by 1995 and it would become necessary to look at exploiting the water produced in the Scotland District which even until now, apart from springs at Codrington and Newcastle remains largely unused.

    The Scotland District accounts for 1/7th of the area of Barbados. It is also very difficult to get at the water in the Scotland District because of the unstable nature of the Scotland District.

    In producing the 1991 Physical Development Plan, the Chief Town Planner would have, as required by law, done a survey of the island and determined its needs and summarised the results in the plan.

    There would have been consultation with the people of Barbados and finally the plan would have been adopted by Parliament as the basis for land use in the 5 years after 1991 or until it was superceded by another adopted by due process.

    The basis for the SDA’s case was that the PDP did not describe a landfill at Greenland but allocated it as a Zone 1 water Catchment Area. It was also argued that the PDP was the basis for land use and was a statutory instrument which the PM was obliged to follow.

    It continually made the point that the PM was acting contrary to the advice of the Technical people in Government which clearly he was.

    If you look at the economic indicators in the Social and Economic Report of 2005 available at the Government Printery, you will find that the volume of water produced by the BWA since 1995/6 has in fact plateaued and has actually fallen slightly, totally at variance with a growing economy.

    This is congruent with the prediction from 1978 that the water supply available from the coral area would be wholly utilised by 1995/6.

    I believe the BWA has been pretty skilful in fixing mains and curbing wastage but I think that the metering in the late 1990’s which meant you paid for what you used meant demand was curbed. I have a healthy respect for the guys and gals at BWA, even though they get real stick.

    The 1991 Physical Development Plan now appears as the Physical Development Plan 2003 (Amended) and of course the Zone 1 area has been changed and a landfill appears in its place at Greenland.

    It is interesting to see that the last sitting of Parliament considered the Amended Plan which I think I saw was on the Order Paper since March 2007. This was done in the absence of the Opposition which had of course walked out.

    It remains to be seen how it will be dealt with after the elections by whoever wins, …. or loses!!

    Then we will know if the 1991 PDP has finally been replaced or not, … some 17 years later!!

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