Barbados: No rules about chemical use, storage, dumping

This week’s chemical disaster could have been prevented

This week’s spill disaster again reminds us that when it comes to environmental standards, laws and performance, our leaders have made us a third world country.

Sermac Laundry on Baxters Road burned over the weekend. That is expected: businesses and homes burn regularly. That’s why we have a fire service.

The problem with Sermac was that the building was full of drums of new and used chemicals – just waiting to make a routine fire into a neighbourhood-threatening disaster. With no laws the owners did what they wanted for years and now it’s our problem. Street closures, schools and businesses closed, ground water contaminated.

“[W]hat happens is that a number of laundries that use that chemical, since they don’t have an avenue for disposal, they store it on their premises …”

Roy Ward, head of RGW Consultants Inc, who was responsible for the clean-up at Sermac Laundry this week after the fire that destroyed the small business over the weekend. Source: Barbados Today (and thanks for the photo!)

For 21 years the BLP and DLP promised to put an Environmental Act in place. They lied and Barbados suffered. When Shell Oil had their massive pipeline spill of jet fuel and contaminated wells all along the pristine southern coast, there wasn’t a damn thing that could be done because there was no law against it.

When Fibrepol dumped gallons of acetone into the water table, there was no law against it.

When factories keep hundreds of rusty drums full of poison in a field with no fences and where children play, there’s nothing to be done because there is no law against it.

And when a dry cleaning company like Sermac stockpiles thousands of liters of poison in a residential area, there’s still no law against it.

To all our Environment Ministers, past and present, we give a hearty “Thanks for nothing.”


Filed under Barbados, Environment

9 responses to “Barbados: No rules about chemical use, storage, dumping

  1. Wily Coyote

    Quote “our leaders have made us a third world country.” Barbados has always been classified as an UNDERDEVELOPED THIRD WORLD COUNTRY by the UN, the point is that that countries leaders have not managed to elevate it’s status, environmental policy is just one of numerous areas where the countries infrastructure falls short.
    The Barbados situation is in fact getting worse since independence.

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  3. Newbie

    NO LEGISLATION = NO ACCOUNTABILITY which = NO TRANSPARENCY which encourages NO INTEGRITY. Where is the ITAL we were promised. We can blame whoever the **** we like but if no one is made accountable then there really isn’t anyone to be blamed. I personally blame most of our ills on the lawmakers who refuse to give us the kind of laws that leads to the well being of the majority. You cannot please all the people but you can please the majority of the people. What harm can it possibly do to Barbados to introduce some of the Environmental and Health and Safety concepts that would protect us as a society (maybe LESS GRAVY ON THE GRAVY TRAIN???). If there had been proper fire safety legislation in place for businesses it is possible that the Campuz Trend fire may not have claimed any lives. Only when something like that happens we hear that things should have been different. I wonder how many stores in Bridgetown and others still have only one Entrance/Exit. We got to be thankful that no lives were lost due to the recent fire but we may never know how many are being affected by the chemicals. Again there is an indication that the lawmakers only exist to suppress those of us not fortunate enough to own businesses.

    “[W]hat happens is that a number of laundries that use that chemical, since they don’t have an avenue for disposal, they store it on their premises

    There will come a point in time when these chemicals needs to be removed, what happens next??

  4. jrjrjrjr

    Surely all the past Ministers for the Environment are responsible for lack of any laws

  5. yatinkiteasy

    I wonder if the high incidence of Cancer is liked to the indiscriminate use of products like Gramoxone in Barbados. I often see people spraying their yards without the use of any gloves, mask, etc. Also, the hardware stores sell this and even more dangerous chemicals to anyone without any restrictions whatsoever.Prescription drugs are well controlled , but these “over the counter” poisons should be regulated.After all, our water supply comes from underground, and it contains the water soluble chemicals sprayed all over the island to kill weeds, etc.

  6. jrjrjrjr

    government ministers look after their own

  7. David Thompson

    Hear well what I tell wunnuh dah night, pun CBC-TV…

    “We are not an enforcing society”

  8. Newbie

    @ David Thompson
    Park your car on the wrong side of the street for the way it is facing and see just how enforcing our officers can be and rude with it too.
    Swear at an officer and see.


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