Tag Archives: Environmental Disaster

The broken sluice gate the Barbados Government refuses to repair – killing our Ramsar wetlands

This broken sluice gate is the weapon being used to destroy our last mangrove wetlands

The government-owned and controlled sluice gate should regulate the flow of water in and out of the Graeme Hall mangrove wetlands. When operating properly, it lets the wetlands “breathe” and refresh itself from the sea. It keeps the brackish water (brackish = salt and fresh water mix) at the correct salinity to allow the mangroves, plants and all creatures great and small to thrive.

Without a properly operating sluice gate, the mangrove wetlands die as do many plant and animal species that inhabit the Ramsar-designated Graeme Hall wetlands.

Successive Barbados governments have refused to repair or replace the broken sluice gate for at least 15 years that I know of. Successive Barbados governments have refused offers from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary to repair or replace the sluice gate at the Sanctuary’s cost and operate it under government supervision.

Why would that be?

Why would the Barbados government deliberately refuse to repair or replace the sluice gate for 15 years?

Barbados Free Press suspects that the long term goal of certain persons is to destroy the wetlands so they can then be developed. Graeme Hall would be worth a huge pile of money if developed.

The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary launched an international complaint about the government’s actions. Read about the background here, here and…

Investor files international complaint – says Barbados government violated agreement with Canada, failed to protect Canadian investment in Barbados and…

Major Environmental Engineering study slams Barbados Government over imminent death of last Mangrove wetland.

Flood Control

Besides controlling the environmental health of the mangrove wetlands, the sluice gate is also used for flood control – to lower the level of the water during times of heavy rains when the wetlands act as a giant reservoir to prevent flooding of the surrounding area.

Because our government deliberately refuses to repair the sluice gate, the folks responsible for flood control use construction equipment to block the channel with sand – or remove the sand – as needed to control the water level in the wetlands.

As we reported yesterday, the government dug out the sand two days ago for a time to lower the water level and then filled the channel again. (See BFP’s Potential flooding forces Barbados Government to unblock Graeme Hall Wetlands sluice gate)

The photos of the broken sluice gate to the sea and the channel were taken on Wednesday morning and afternoon, May 19, 2010 after the government blocked the channel again with sand. (Big Thanks to three readers who responded to our request for photos!)

Does that sluice gate look high-tech to you? Does it look like there’s a technical reason why it couldn’t have been repaired or replaced 15 years ago? Does it look like rocket science with the latest alloys? Is it made of gold?

I think readers will find it as obvious as we do: the non-repair and non-operational state of the government-owned sluice gate is deliberate.

Once you see the simple truth of these photos, the question becomes Why is our government doing this to OUR last remaining mangrove wetlands?

Click on each photo to view full size (800 x 600).

Advertisements

15 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Nature, Offshore Investments, Politics, Wildlife

Potential flooding forces Barbados Government to unblock Graeme Hall Wetlands sluice gate

Is it the power of blogs or a mere coincidence that late yesterday or early this morning government sent heavy equipment to remove sand from in front of the (Graeme Hall RAMSAR wetlands) sluice gate and in the canal to allow some of the water that has built up due to recent rains to be released into the sea?

Of course all of the garbage, plastic bottles etc that were trapped behind the gate will now go into the sea and wash back on the beach.

Let us wait and see how long they will allow the flow to continue. Will they wait until locals and tourists complain about the “coloured” water in the sea?

How much easier it would be to have an operable sluice gate or mechanism that allows easy and frequent management of the flow of water as recommended by the ARA study in 1997.

… posted as a comment by BFP regular reader Nostradamus

For background on how and why the Barbados Government has deliberately allowed the vital Graeme Hall RAMSAR Wetlands sluice gate fall to pieces and the channel be blocked with sand and garbage, read BFP’s article Major Environmental Engineering study slams Barbados Government over imminent death of last Mangrove wetland. Government destroying RAMSAR natural heritage site.

9 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment, Offshore Investments, Politics, Wildlife

Should we restrict the sale of disposable plastic water bottles in Barbados?

More Standpipes & Drinking Fountains = Fewer Plastic Bottles

Hilton Beach in the morning before cleaning

Take a walk along any beach in Barbados or anywhere in the world for that matter – and you’ll see the plastic rubbish washed up on the shore. Nets, flip-flops, water bottles, toys, bags, lines and so many fishing net floats.

Ask any mariner though, and you’ll be told that what we see on the shore is nothing compared with what’s out there in the sea. Ask any marine diesel mechanic about the increasing number of engines ruined by plastic blockages in the cooling system. Ask any marine biologist about the fish and bird kill by plastic.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, there is a garbage patch made of floating plastic in the Pacific Ocean that covers an area twice the size of Texas. It’s called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

We can’t continue like this folks, around the world or on this island. Just look around Barbados at the plastic rubbish everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you go – to the remotest cove, gully or field – you’ll find this plastic garbage and much of it is plastic water and beverage bottles.

Filling your own bottle from the tap is one thing, tossing endless empty plastic bottles into landfills and the ocean is another.

Whatsay, friends? Could we, should we, restrict or ban the sale of disposable plastic water bottles in Barbados?

Here’s a few videos about plastic and the sea…

… and this one …

15 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Environment

Barbados Police Allow Thieves To Take Home Stolen Fish – No Charges

Graeme Hall Mangrove Wetland & Watershed

Graeme Hall Mangrove Wetland & Watershed

GRAEME HALL NATURE SANCTUARY, INC.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Bridgetown, Barbados
MONDAY, August 24, 2009
Email Contact:               news@graemehall.com
Archives and Art:          www.graemehall.com/reference.htm

Poachers Caught and Released by Police

On Saturday, August 15, 2009, a group of about 15 fisherman were found in the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary fishing illegally for its rare tarpon, the largest and most popular exhibit fish in the Graeme Hall wetland.  Five of the “ringleader” fishermen were caught and questioned by police and Sanctuary security personnel as the other ten fled.

Another incident like this happened in late March of this year.  In both instances police were called, but there was no immediate response, and insistent follow up requests by Sanctuary staff had to be made before they came.

As of Friday, August 21, police had not made any arrests or brought charges in either case, and in fact had allowed the fishermen to leave the Sanctuary with all of the dead tarpon.

According to Peter Allard, owner of the Sanctuary, the value and integrity of the Sanctuary investment depend on enforced protections of wildlife inventory.   The long term health of the Sanctuary also depends on the enforcement of Barbados’ pollution and other environmental laws within the Graeme Hall wetland and contiguous lands.

To protect his investment, Mr. Allard is making a formal request to the Government of Barbados that immediate criminal trespass, theft, and related environmental poaching charges be brought against all future violators and the ringleaders of the last trespass be immediately notified of this proposed action.

Allard noted that it is also an issue of protecting the last remaining biological reserves of Barbados.  This wildlife is part of Barbados’ natural heritage within the OS2 Natural Heritage Conservation Area, and is part of the international Convention on Wetlands Multilateral Environmental Agreement (RAMSAR) to which Barbados is a party.

The Sanctuary is also calling upon the Ministry of Environment and all conservation groups to increase their efforts to educate the mainstream public about the seriousness of wildlife and habitat protection in Barbados.

The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary occupies 35 acres of the 81 acre RAMSAR wetland at Graeme Hall.  The RAMSAR designation is associated with the 1971 RAMSAR Convention on Wetlands Treaty for internationally significant areas of biodiversity.

More information about the Sanctuary can be found at www.graemehall.com.

BFP Editor’s Note: The above media release was printed exactly as received via email from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary. Our previous articles about the lack of police response to crimes committed against the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary can be found at…

August 19, 2009: Barbados Police Again Fail To Uphold Law At Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary & RAMSAR Protected Wetlands

April 1, 2009: Barbados Advocate Covers Up Police Failure To Respond To Theft, Gunshots At Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

March 30, 2009: Another Reason Why Barbados Police Commissioner Dottin Should Be Fired – Police Again Fail To Answer Call For Help

3 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Crime & Law, Disaster, Environment, Nature, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Tourism, Wildlife

Barbados Police Again Fail To Uphold Law At Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary & RAMSAR Protected Wetlands

Barbados Deliberately Neglects Enforcement of Wildlife Laws on RAMSAR Treaty Protected Wetlands

On Saturday August 15, Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary personnel reported at least 15 people boldly fishing in broad daylight from the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary boardwalk.

The Royal Barbados Police Force were called but as usual they didn’t respond for hours. I guess the sanctuary people should feel honoured the police arrived at all because back in March the police didn’t bother coming and the staff had to go to the station to file a report even though gunshots and threats were part of the story. (See BFP’s Barbados Police Again Fail To Answer Call For Help)

So last Saturday when the police didn’t arrive for hours, staff eventually triggered the alarm to involve the private security company employed by Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary.

Finally two police officers and two armed security guards arrived and caught the thieves red handed. Most of them ran off toward the end of the GHNS boardwalk towards the Migratory Bird Exhibit.  The last group who were the ones caught were older, and it is believed they are the ringleaders.

No Arrests, No Charges

According to our source, the police only warned the thieves that it was private property and told them they were not allowed to fish. This was despite the fact that the Graeme Hall staff informed police that they wanted the perpetrators arrested and charged.

The tarpon that the thieves were taking are not good eating because the waters of the ponds are polluted due to the government’s refusal to maintain the sluice gate that controls the flow of tidal water in and out of the wetlands.   GHNS staff members believe that the thieves may have been after the tarpons’ large and shiny scales which can be used to make jewelry.

Barbados Environment Disaster

Typical Lazy Police Officers or Police Carrying Out A Political Agenda?

Why did the police not arrest and/or charge the thieves? Were they being lazy or does it go much deeper than that?

There are powerful and corrupt people who want to see the end of the nature sanctuary and wetlands so they can profit from commercial development at Graeme Hall. This was true of the previous BLP government and it is true of the current David Thompson DLP government.

The current DLP government even changed the law to remove protection from two thirds of the Graeme Hall parkland. This change to allow commercial development on the parkland was initiated by the Owen Arthur government, but when Arthur was defeated, the DLP passed the legislation anyway because now their DLP friends (like Leroy Parris) would profit from the environmental rape!

You owe it to yourself and your children to read our background story Barbados Government Steals 2/3 Of Parkland For Developer Friends – Graeme Hall Environmental Disaster Continues

20 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Crime & Law, Disaster, Environment, Nature, Offshore Investments, Political Corruption, Politics, Politics & Corruption, Tourism, Wildlife

Will Canadian Philanthropist Peter Allard Take Over Failing Barbados Tourist Attraction Ocean Park?

“We have run out of funds needed to push forward to a sustainable position.”

… Ocean Park manager Tracy Johnson

Ocean Park Aquarium Shutting Down August 30, 2009

The Barbados marine exhibition known as Ocean Park has been dying a slow death and bleeding investors since shortly after it opened in 2005. Everyone had hopes that the tourist attraction would thrive in Barbados, but obviously the gross revenues and visitor traffic couldn’t sustain the operational expenses. According to the newspaper articles about Ocean Park, it takes a whole lot of electricity and other costs to keep salt-water big fish for display, and after seeing the facilities I believe that. (CBC article: Ocean Park future in doubt Nation article: Ocean Park expected to fold)

Shona and I took the boy and his cousin once and it was an enjoyable, if expensive, morning and lunch. The best part for the little ones was being able to touch the (de-barbed) sting rays in the pool – but after a few minutes, I’d put the boys’ excitement rating on the same level as finding a new bug or lizard in the yard. Which is all to say that the visit was enjoyable, but quite the price for a Bajan family by the time we purchased drinks and a snack.

As to the wisdom of taking an undistinguished empty field and trying to make a Disney-like major attraction in Barbados, my thoughts are that when tourists arrive in Barbados either by cruise ship or airplane, they don’t want to see mega “tourist attractions” that they can see elsewhere. People come to Barbados to experience what is unique about our country and our culture.

I believe that Ocean Park and other “mega attractions” are doomed to fail in Barbados because our tourists don’t come here to see mini versions of world-class experiences that are better done in larger markets. Consider the 4 million or so cruise ship passengers that transit through Miami every year (source here). If those passengers want to see a real world class marine park, they can go to the Miami Seaquarium and see killer whales, turtles, sharks and even swim with dolphins. Many do!

We certainly didn’t see any bus-loads of cruise ship passengers arriving at Ocean Park during our visit. Again that was probably because those people want to spend their few hours ashore seeing what is unique to Barbados.

Thank God that Owen Arthur’s Caribbean Splash Waterpark didn’t happen because in a short while it too would have been an abandoned eyesore.

Just like Ocean Park will be an abandoned eyesore in a few months.

Investors and lenders are in business to make money and if there is no return on their investment – and no prospects of profit – they cut their losses and boogie. I can’t blame Ocean Park’s investors for getting out after trying to make it work for almost five years, but their failure should be a lesson for anyone with hopes of establishing Disney-like tourist attractions in the Barbados market.

Ocean Park vs. Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary: What’s the difference?

On the bare surface, the closure of Ocean Park seems to echo last year’s closing of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary by millionaire (billionaire?) Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard – but even a moment’s consideration disproves that false notion.

Ocean Park was a business failure, pure and simple. The owners and investors started a business to make a profit, and when it didn’t and they couldn’t see it ever making a profit – and nobody wanted to further invest into the business – they closed Ocean Park to stop the financial bleeding.

The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary though was not created for profit. It was created as a gift to Barbados. The driving force behind the nature sanctuary is Peter Allard, who is by all accounts a super-rich guy who enjoys giving something back through his philanthropy directed to educational, social, medical and environmental causes. Nice work if you can get it, I guess!

Dr. Charles Allard, father of Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard

Dr. Charles Allard, father of Canadian philanthropist Peter Allard

Again from what I can find online (here, here and here), Peter Allard and the rest of his family came into their money honestly enough starting with the family patriarch, Dr. Charles Allard, who gave up his surgery and went into business way back when. Over the last 50 years, the Allards became super successful in real estate, the gas and petrochemical industry and television broadcasting.

Different folks have different interests. While Oprah gives back by supporting her extensive Angel Network, Kermit Weeks preserves aviation history and sponsors pilot training for inner-city youths and Jay Grossman looks after the dental needs of L.A.’s homeless people, Peter Allard contributes tens of millions of dollars to communities through medical and environmental projects.

School Children Learning At The Last Mangrove Wetlands On The Island - The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

School Children Learning At The Last Mangrove Wetlands On The Island - The Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary

Helping Barbados By Cleaning and Saving Our Natural Environment

Almost 20 years ago, Peter Allard decided that saving the last mangrove forest and wetlands in Barbados was a worthy project, so he spent some US$30 million dollars of his own money cleaning up the dumping and damage at Graeme Hall and created a world-class nature sanctuary. Allard didn’t do all this in a vacuum as he originally had encouragement and appreciation from the Government of Barbados – at the time under the leadership of Owen Arthur. Allard was also assured that the Graeme Hall wetlands would stay protected as a natural resource under our country’s official land use plan.

Along the way, Peter Allard obviously fell in love with Barbados as he also funded the reef ball project and offered to give a multi-million dollar Cancer and AIDS hospice to Barbados so our loved ones would have proper care at the end of their lives.

Although the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary was a philanthropic project it employed some one hundred people directly and indirectly, and eventually it became almost self-supporting with the shortfall covered by Mr. Allard. But once again, the Nature Sanctuary was not supposed to make a profit. Allard supported the sanctuary operations and saved the wetlands as his gift to Barbados – his way of giving something back.

But then government insiders wanted to profit through land speculation at Graeme Hall

The fact that Peter Allard and his team cleaned up and saved the Graeme Hall wetlands meant that the public lands surrounding the Nature Sanctuary became tremendously valuable IF ONLY the government would change the national plan and permit building and commercial activity on lands that had been set aside as public green space.

And so the sabotage by Owen Arthur and his government friends started with the intent of making the foreigner run from Barbados. The nature sanctuary and Allard with his damned notion of “environment” were standing in the way of profits and kickbacks.

Soon the government sluice gate that controlled the water flow in and out of the mangrove ponds was damaged and not repaired so oxygen levels dropped killing fish. Then, oops! Sewerage was diverted from the government processing station into the nature sanctuary. Promised tax credits for the sanctuary operation never arrived for a decade as they were being “processed” by government workers. Then Owen Arthur met with American waterslide park developer Matthew Kerins and agreed to let Kerins build a water park on the wetlands.

When citizen outrage caused then-Prime Minister Owen Arthur to withdraw permission for a proposed Caribbean Splash waterslide park on the Graeme Hall wetlands, the BLP government ceased trying to pretend they cared about the environment and mangrove wetlands and announced they would change the official land use plan to allow for commercial development at Graeme Hall.

Barbados Environment Disaster

Prime Minister Thompson said “To Hell with parkland for citizens. Change the land use plan and make money developing what used to be a public green space!”

In January 2008, the citizens of Barbados tossed out Owen Arthur and his BLP, but unfortunately the new DLP gang under Prime Minister David Thompson had dollar signs in their eyes too.

One of the first acts of the David Thompson DLP Government was to change the law protecting 265 acres of parkland at Graeme Hall to allow developer friends to profit from these public lands. To make this happen, David Thompson and the DLP Members of Parliament had to set aside laws that had protected the land from development since 1988. When the government was finished, 2/3 of the parkland (175 acres) was gone and the government effectively signed the death warrant for the last mangrove wetland on the island.

And with all of that, Peter Allard finally decided late last year to shake the Barbados sand from his shoes and take his philanthropy to other places where the government and the people appreciate the value of their own natural environment and work to preserve it. Peter Allard shut down the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary after the government of Barbados stole two thirds of the parkland so their developer friends could profit from what should be YOUR parkland.

So you see, there is a huge difference between the business failure of Ocean Park, and the closing of the Graeme Hall Nature Sanctuary – which leads us to the conclusion…

Peter Allard Rescue Ocean Park? Not A Bloody Chance!

38 Comments

Filed under Agriculture, Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Corruption, Disaster, Environment, Offshore Investments, Tourism, Traveling and Tourism, Wildlife

Shell Oil Announces Pipeline Spill A Non-Issue – Barbados News Media & Government Ask Zero Questions Of Company Hired To “Ensure Buy-In” To Shell Strategies

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

So-Called "Clean-Up" By Shell Oil In Barbados

Shell Report Issued By ERM – Environmental Resources Management – Shell’s Little Environmental Helper For 20 Years

“For over 20 years, ERM has provided a wide range of services to Shell at numerous locations world wide, including North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia Pacific…”

“Shell Haven Refinery – ERM Project Description

Maintained close liaison with UK Environment Agency and local regulatory authority, Shell, and future site developer to ensure buy-in to strategy from all parties and to expedite progress by achieving tacit up-front regulatory acceptance of phased strategy, site-specific risk-based cleanup criteria, and remedial methodology.”

“Original remedial cost estimate before ERM was contracted was $140 million; to date, cost is $14 million, representing 90% in savings with project nearly 90% complete.”

… Above from the Shell Haven Refinery case study report by ERM

Area Wells Still Filled With Jet Fuel, But Don’t Worry About It!

The front page of today’s Barbados Advocate reads “All Clear For Shell Pipeline”. The story tells how Shell Oil hired an environmental consulting company called ERM to do a “study” of the contamination caused by spilled fuel from Shell’s leaky airport pipeline.

Surprise surprise! Everything is okay, don’t you know!

Please excuse me for having my doubts — because five minutes of research on the Internet showed that Environmental Resources Management ERM has been on the Shell Oil payroll for 20 years and has made millions of dollars handling Shell Oil’s sticky wicket environmental situations.

That includes Africa too – and we all know about Shell in Africa, don’t we?

The ERM company website even brags about ensuring that government officials “buy-in to strategy” and how ERM personnel “achieve tacit upfront regulatory acceptance” – meaning that ERM are experts in getting government officials to see things to Shell Oil’s benefit. In the Shell Haven Refinery case listed in Google’s database, the UK government originally demanded a $140 million dollar site clean-up, but ERM reduced that to a far nicer number for Shell Oil: $14 million.

Please excuse me for having doubts about the independence of a company that has banked millions of dollars from Shell Oil contracts over the last 20 years and brags about its ability to have government officials “buy-in” to Shell’s plans.

Not to mention that in Barbados we have no laws that prohibit government officials from receiving gifts or benefits from corporations that need them to provide approvals. You see, it is still legal in Barbados for elected or appointed government officials to use their offices for personal gain.

So once again, please forgive me if I have some doubts.

Oh… how much in “campaign donations” did Shell Oil give to Barbados politicians? There are no laws that govern such donations and you have no right to know about it!

And then there is the little matter that neither the DLP nor the BLP government even passed a simple law compelling pipeline owners to make daily measurements and report any leakage to the government! Shell Oil never kept leakage records or filed them with the government. Meaning that nobody has any idea of the exact amount of Shell jet fuel that leaked into our water table over a ten or twelve year period!

What About Those Wells Filled With Jet Fuel?

Again, pardon me for having some doubts, but I happen to remember that before the DLP were elected they participated in a visit to a well only 500 feet from a beach where a bucket of almost pure jet fuel was raised…

Today, (Thursday 3rd January 2008), I visited Oistins at the Southern Farmers request and witnessed a bucket being lowered into a well close to the road and where an Urban Development project is taken place.

The well was about 500 feet from the beach and when the bucket was lifted it contained what appeared to be almost pure kerosene.

Also there was Mr Lashley, Mr Boyce, Mr Jones and Senator Lowe of the DLP, The PEP candidate, several members of the media including the Advocate, Nation and CBC…

… from the BFP article Barbados Shell Pipeline Jet Fule Leak – “Almost Pure Kerosene” Fills Domestic Water Well

Do You Trust Shell Oil’s “Everything Is Okay” Report?

Sorry folks, but I still have big doubts about this Shell report. How about you?

23 Comments

Filed under Barbados