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Environmental, safety concerns at Rabacca site

Environmental, safety concerns at Rabacca site

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The threat posed to the travelling public on the Windward Highway south of the Rabacca Dry River and to the Lady Jane Bridge by erosion caused by mining of sand on the Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited Rabacca project, was the primary reason why the company’s permission to operate in the area was revoked, says Chief Engineer Brent Bailey.{{more}}

Bailey made the disclosure to SEARCHLIGHT last Wednesday evening when contacted on the issue.

He noted that water draining from the Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited project, owned by Leon Samuel, usually enters the Lady Jane River and causes material to stock pile at the Lady Jane Bridge on the Windward Highway.

“We have found that we routinely have to basically excavate that material to ensure that the water flows under the bridge and not over the bridge. That is also necessary because there will be boulders and so forth coming down which could present a threat not only to the travelling public but the structure itself,” said Bailey, adding that BRAGSA has to clear eroded material washed down at the bridge every two weeks.

“That is the primary issue as it concerns the office of the Chief Engineer. …There are other issues as it relates to Mr. Samuel’s operation,” said Bailey.

Bailey, who headed the Technical Committee of the Physical Planning and Development Board which conducted investigations at the project site on January 17 submitted the Committee’s findings to the Attorney General, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing etc and to the Town Planner on February 7. The report showed that “there is apparently the lack of safety measures or procedures being practised” on the site.

Following the report, Clayton Burgin, Minister with responsibility for town and country planning, directed the Physical Planning and Development Board to revoke the permission granted to Leon Samuel and Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited to conduct mining on the project site which consists of five acres of property bounded on the north l Continued from Back page

by the Rabacca Dry River and on the south by Langley Park Dry River.

Bailey contends that the team, while carrying out its investigations, identified other enivonmental problems created by the mining on the Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited Rabacca project.

Apart from the erosion on the Lady Jane River, Bailey said Samuel was given authorisation by the Physical Planning and Development Board to excavate to a depth of 12 ft from the original levels or over a period of 10 years, “whichever comes first.”

“Which again he would have violated,” said Bailey.

When asked if Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited operations could have affected the Rabacca Bridge, Bailey responded: “The Rabacca River is wide enough that whatever erosion occurs up from his site, it spreads out. There is sufficient mining activity going on that it won’t directly impact now. Mining of sand is also carried out at Rabacca by the OECC company that constructed the Rabacca and Lady Jane bridges.

“However, with the mining that he was carrying on along the Rabacca River, we were concerned as to the safety issues in terms of his operation,” said Bailey. The Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited Rabacca Project is sandwiched between the Lady Jane River and the Rabacca River.

Bailey again explained the depth of the excavation pit dug by Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited near to Rabacca River was in excess of 12ft, and a thin embankment of approximately 15ft that remained presents a significant risk to heavy equipment operators. Bailey said this embankment may collapse under the load of the equipment operating along the bank.

“I did not see any caution tape or any safety requirement,” said Bailey.

Bailey mentioned that at the site, Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited also has diesel or oil directly exposed.

“He was also under his environment plan to keep in stock pile the vegetation and so forth so that he can maintain some control over the erosion. Again that was not done,” said Bailey.

Addressing some persons’ concerns that Samuel was not given sufficient time by the Physical Planning and Development Board to have the issues addressed as to prevent the revocation of his permission to mine at Rabacca, Bailey said the Technical Committee thought that the environmental concerns were sufficiently threatening for us to stop the operation.

“That was the reason that it was taken,” said Bailey.

“Bear in mind, Mr. Samuel was given very strict conditions of operation in the beginning, which he violated.”

Bailey, also responding to the claims that Samuel is being politically victimized, contends: “It has nothing to do with the recommendations of the committee to the Planning Board. I do not know what is under or above the scenes. I know what I saw when I went there. … However, I can clearly tell you what my observations were and what my recommendations were based on those observations.”

SEARCHLIGHT has obtained a copy of the Chief Engineer’s report which stated that on January 10, a six-member technical committee was constituted to review the mining operations of Bigger Trucking and Blocks at Rabacca.

The team was required to determine: if the mining operation violates any of the conditions of approval granted by the Physical Planning Board; whether the operation adversely affects the surrounding environment; and if the operation adversely affects the establishment/development of the Rabacca Park Projects.

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