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‘Bigger Bigs’ ordered to cease mining at Rabacca

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Clayton Burgin, Minister with responsibility for town and country planning, has 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 lands at Rabacca.{{more}}

Samuel, on Friday, February 11, was presented with documents prohibiting him and his company from carrying out any form of mining on his five-acre property bounded on the north by the Rabacca Dry River and on the south by Langley Park Dry River.

The Protection of Environment (Rabacca) Order, Number 2 of 2011, which was gazetted on February 11, 2011, states that, based on information received from the Physical Planning and Development Board, the Minister is satisfied that it is in the public interest that the Board be directed to take such steps as are necessary to remove, mitigate or prevent any condition that poses or is likely to pose a threat to the environment surrounding the Rabacca Dry River and the Lady Jane River.

When contacted last Friday evening, Samuel, a former Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporter, now a New Democratic Party (NDP) supporter, in a calm tone, said he believes the revocation of the permission to carry out the mining work on his land is politically motivated.

He stated: “At the moment we have taken these documents to our lawyers and we are taking instructions from them.”

Samuel said that was all he wished to say on the matter at this time.

Yesterday, SEARCHLIGHT contacted Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Physical Planning, Lands and Surveys Luis deShong, who explained that the Physical Planning and Development Board had granted Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited approval to mine with certain conditions in place. This was done on July 2, 2008.

“We have vigilant staff who, from time to time, would make checks to ensure that persons to whom permission was granted, these persons are adhering to the conditions.

“It was brought to the attention of the Physical Planning and Development Board that there might have been some issues. The Board took a decision to craft a technical committee, headed by the Chief Engineer, who observed whatever might be happening at the site and all of these issues surfaced,” said DeShong.

According to Order #2 of 2011, the Technical Committee concluded that Samuel’s company was not adhering to the proposals in the Environmental Management Plan, submitted in the application for permission to mine. They also stated that the use and disposal of the petrochemical compounds is not controlled and there is evidence that the oils and diesel have gained access to the ground water table.

It was also pointed out to Samuel in the order that the excavation pit adjoining the Rabacca Dry River presents a significant risk to the heavy equipment operators. The documents further stated that the river bank of the Rabacca Dry River may collapse under the load of the equipment operating along the bank.

“There is apparently a lack of safety measures or procedures being practised on the site,” the document outlined.

To this end, the Minister directed the Board to ensure that Bigger Trucking and Blocks Construction Company Limited takes remedial measures at the site, which include: the decommission of the Crushing Plant; backfilling the excavations to eliminate ponding; reinstating the top soil and in situ vegatation to all excavated areas; terrace and shape the embankment along the Lady Jane River to the Board’s satisfaction; conduct the site restoration process; excavating soils contaminated by petrochemicals and utilising the appropriate treatment methods; as well as collect all used petrochemical drums and dispose of off-site in a manner approved by the Board; cease all incomplete constructions (buildings etc.) and take such other remedial measures the Board considers necessary to remove, mitigate or prevent any condition, poses or is likely to pose a threat to the environment surrounding the Rabacca Dry River and the Lady Jane River.

DeShong said failing to comply with these requests, Samuel and his company will be taken to court.

“At this juncture, our staff would have to monitor what is happening out there,” said deShong.

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