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Shock As Scale Of Dredging In Bimini Is Revealed

Dredging work in Bimini.

Dredging work in Bimini.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

RESORTS World Bimini has been given permission by the government to dredge more than half a million more cubic yards of material than was previously disclosed to the public, Bahamas Environment Science and Technology Commission (BEST) documents seen by The Tribune indicate.

This news comes as Court of Appeal Justices, by a majority vote of two to one, refused yesterday to grant Bimini Blue Coalition’s request to have an injunction imposed on dredging activities in North Bimini as part of the resort’s construction of a cruise ship terminal, 1,000-pier and man-made island.

In seeking an injunction, the Coalition had claimed that the developers failed to uphold a Court undertaking they made not to dredge until they had notified the environmental group that they had all necessary permits or approvals and provided copies to them.

Justice Abdulai Conteh was the dissenting Justice. The reasons for their ruling are expected to be released in documents today.

Nonetheless, according to an October, 2013 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the BEST Commission website which addresses the environmental impacts of the construction, operation and maintenance of a new ferry terminal on the west shoreline of North Bimini, the project was to include dredging of 220,000 cubic yards of material “which will be utilised in the construction of a new 4.5 acre island connected to the shore by a 1,000 foot long piled pier.”

However, a document seen by The Tribune, signed by Port Controller Commander Patrick McNeil and dated April 29, 2014, reveals that last month BEST Commission offered the developers “no objection” to their request to increase dredging material from 220,000 cubic yards to 874,000 cubic yards so long as certain conditions are followed.

It is unclear when the request was made by the resort, though the BEST Commission documents note that a “conditional approval” of the request was granted on July 29, 2013 under unknown conditions.

“It is extremely important to note that in offering this NO - OBJECTION the Commission notes that significant concern remains unanswered with respect to the proposed excessive dredging,” the document said, adding: “The Commission places on record its serious concerns with respect to the structural stability of the placement plan for the dredge material, as we envisage catastrophic failure of the system, resulting in some one million cubic yards of material, excluding water, being released into the embayed areas of North Bimini if mitigation measures and the site management is not provided for.”

The BEST Commission demanded that an addendum to the EIA and Environment Management Plan (EMP) be made. It also recommended that a variety of other steps be taken to mitigate the risks associated with the increased dredging, including that an addendum to the EIA and EMP be submitted featuring “suitability of structural design and controls, as well as management of these proposed spoil management structures for review to substantiate good industry practices to protect against structural failure and ruinous release of sediments into the environment.” In addition to an addendum to the EIA and EMP, BEST commission recommended that nine other actions be taken to prevent potentially catastrophic environmental degradation from the project.

While Resorts World Bimini’s (RWB) Public Relations Director, Michelle Malcolm, noted in an email to The Tribune yesterday that “adjustments to the EIA and EMP have been made” in accordance with BEST Commission’s demands, the EIA and EMA documents on BEST Commission’s website does not reflect these claimed changes.

In a statement, Ms Malcolm said: “This expansion will help ensure that arrivals and departures to and from Bimini are smoother, in turn providing a more enjoyable and comfortable guest experience. Adjustments to the EIA and EMP have been made and proper approvals from the BEST Commission and the Bahamas Government have been granted, and we will continue to adhere to all environmental laws and best management practices and monitor water quality throughout the process. The cruise pier’s structural design will remain unchanged and we will continue to take every precaution to preserve Bimini’s natural habitats, both on land and underwater. All corals located in the dredging footprint have been removed and relocated to a new artificial reef nearby.”

Fred Smith, attorney for the Coalition, said yesterday that the failure of the EMA and EIA documents on BEST Commission’s website to reflect the changes allegedly made by RWB proves that the claims made two weeks ago by Environment Minister Kenred Dorsett that all documents related to this matter have been posted to BEST commission’s website are false.

He said the issue of increased dredging material should have been made available to the public in “reasonable time for sensible contribution and consultation.”  

He said: “It’s inappropriate to cherry pick what they put online.” He said it is unclear if the developers had time to implement the actions and recommendations called for by the BEST Commission.

When contacted, environment lawyer Romi Ferriera said the BEST Commission documents seen by The Tribune indicate that information in the EIA fail to fully address the project in all its scope. “How do you predict how far the plume will be? The initial prediction is no longer valid given the extent of the variance. The EMP has to be totally revamped,” he said. “Look at the size of this. It was difficult with 220,000 cubic yards. The risk has increased that much more now. It’s madness.”

Asked yesterday about concerns raised after aerial photos of the dredging taken over the weekend showed that a large plume of silt was spilling beyond the protective curtains and spreading over the surrounding marine habitat, Ms Malcolm said: “Resorts World is working closely with the BEST Commission and our environmental consultants throughout the process to operate at acceptable levels detailed in the EIA and EMP.”

DOCUMENT REVEALS REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL DREDGING

Comments

BiminiHomeowner 5 years, 4 months ago

This had got to be one of the most CORRUPT & DESTRUCTIVE developments in the history of the Bahamas.

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Cobalt 5 years, 4 months ago

Don't be mad at the Bahamian government... after all, they're just an extension of the Bahamian people who put them there. Bahamian citizens exercise their staunch stupidity every five years by getting swept up in the political fiasco that is the General Elections. They rally around these liars, and criminals in suits to their own dismay. Either we don't have the common sense to see that these politicians are crooks; or we vote for them knowing that they are crooks. Either way, the Bahamian people are getting exactly what they deserve.

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Cobalt 5 years, 4 months ago

In case you haven't realized, there is no difference between the FNM or PLP. Thus, I am neither.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

Are the corals still alive/in good health or are they dead/dying like the casuarina(?) trees and the soon to be dead lime trees?

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John 5 years, 4 months ago

Hurricane season soon come!

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USAhelp 5 years, 4 months ago

Yep make your bed now lay in it

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Cobalt 5 years, 4 months ago

That's what I'm saying! They too stupid.

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The_Oracle 5 years, 4 months ago

We have arrived at the point that no amount of Bad press, embarrassment, or impropriety or unlawful behavior has any effect on the elected or the appointed. The rule of law is now blatantly disregarded and abandoned, leaving the Bahamian people defenseless against each other and most importantly their Government. Our Children and their children to 5 generations will pay for our arrogance, stupidity and blind allegiance to those who pocket their future in cold hard stolen cash. In the case of Bimini, there will be no conch and fish to fall back on when all this collapses, as has happened time and time again through history. The disgrace of all of this is owned by the Bahamian people for trusting the Yellow or Red, by blindly rallying on tap every 5 years. The loss here is to the ecology of the world, and even the eastern seaboard of the U.S. will feel the effects of this despoiling. Not the first destruction of that which no man can create, nor will it be the last.

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voltairehumor 5 years, 4 months ago

Bimini is still part of the Bahamas? I had not a clue.

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 4 months ago

...It's about to Annex itself to be a new 'Little Miami'.

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birdiestrachan 5 years, 4 months ago

I love the beautiful Bahamas. and I enjoy it every day. But my question is Was Mr. Fred smith and others concerned about the dredging in the EXuma Sea Park for the benefit of one man??, who it is said gave the National Trust one million dollars. At least some may say it will cause some persons to have jobs.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

Yes birdie it makes perfect sense to make (avoidable) mistakes today simply because we made mistakes yesterday

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

I dont understand why everyone is always fussing about whats going on...I think people should be more grateful these guys are here pumping nearly half billion dollars into both Bimini and Bahamas. That pier is not only needed but is crucial for the (guest/ user experience) arriving to the island. When evaluating the opportunity cost of what people are complaining and bitching about it pales in comparison to what a nearly a half a billion dollar investment will do for that small island and the Bahamas. I think its ridiculous how people are getting about this.

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

The government is doing a fantastic jobs at brining in foreign investors such as genting and other large developers that are putting their money were their mouth is and pouring in billions of dollars in many islands...At the end of the day these investments will yield more food in peoples mouths and more roofs over peoples heads...BOTTOM LINE

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Cobalt 5 years, 4 months ago

That's what the government would have us believe. But as we all know... this so call major investment will not yield any benefits for Bahamian people. The last major investment that yielded job opportunities for the Bahamian people was the mega construction of Atlantis. Since then, every foreign investor that has come to the Bahamas has either pulled-out or decided against investing in the Bahamas. Like every foreign investment company, once their pockets begins to take a hit, they leave the Bahamas only to leave damage in their wake. What's going to happen to Bimini once these investors pull-out??? By then, Perry and his boys would have already gotten their cut of money so they won't care. And the people of Bimini will be left with unemployment and a damaged marine environment. But then again... I think the people of Bimini voted PLP... didn't they???

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

well..im seeing things first hand... i see a shit load of more people working a tthe resort than 1 year ago... i see a new terminal at the airport, and a new runway.. i see more new planes and flights cheaper to the island... im seeing fixed up roads and parks... new computer lab for the town....new parks for the kids.... i could keep going on and on....all of this in less than 12 months of these guys taking over...i could only imagine 12 months later the amazing improvements these guys are doing...so ...i see no valid point to your comment

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

Let me know when the murder count starts to increase. Now, I know that is not a totally fair statement, my point is, short term gains should not blind us to potential long term losses. For example, I wonder what the people who rejoiced at free tvs, car and cash give always, all the Kentucky you can eat parties are saying about what that shiny government in waiting is doing for them now?

Irreversible long term environmental damage seems like a good reason to stop this dredging. These people will make their money then move on to the next Caribbean island. You really think they care about Bimini people? They're businessmen and like all businessmen they want max profits. They could giving a flying rat about the long term health of the Bahamian ecosystem, they're trying to attract people to an indoor casino...DUUUHHH....

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

Read up on Genting a little. Their biggest problem in Florida with their gambling boats could be solved by hiring Americans instead of people from South America. The CBP has told Genting repeatedly that they could run their gambling operations as they normally did by hiring locally, but Genting refuses because they can pay the foreign workers well under minimum wage as they are not covered under US labor laws. this is definitely the kind of people we want running businesses in the Bahamas..... #sarcasm

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

IKORKY.....Obviously you are either affiliated with the current political party, or employed by Genting. No one with any proper education on mitigating environmental damage during maritime construction would make the statements you just made otherwise. Either way you are pretty ill informed of the damage this project will create, and the fact that no one in Bimini will see any profits from this sham, as i have already seen on my last visit to Bimini. This project should be stopped immediately, but unfortunately our government cannot see the forest through the trees.

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

Correction...im actually a real estate and hospitality developer with in depth knowledge of this projects current and past performance... Real estate and hospitality is my back ground... I also happened to put my money were my mouth is and have invested heavily in Bimini in the last year since Genting took over..because i believe whole heartily in the overall positive changes that are under way to this island and the stability of the Bahamas.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

So you will sell some property and make some money.

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

Anyone who believes this has anything to do with the welfare of the Bahamas needs their heads checked. This is all about a few greedy men pocketing millions

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ETJ 5 years, 4 months ago

Just like Ginn did in West End right?

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

No... that was an economic collapse that was world wide..the project didint go through because the entire world had a credit and housing collapse.. no real estate was sold on the west end thus for making the project bankrupt along with lack of finanching...like the rest of the world and every other ginn project at the time.

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

While the financial collapse may have had something to do with West End, there was also the problem that that project was way too ambitious, not too mention that they wanted to basically turn it into a foreign country on our own soil, with restricted access to bahamians, their own schools, police, hospitals etc, and a 5 mile restriction for any vessels offshore. or in other words, another place in the Bahamas that Bahamians would not have access to. i hope i am remembering all that correctly, but i may be a little off on the details as it was a while ago, but i remember being shocked at what they were planning back then.

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PastorTroy 5 years, 4 months ago

IMHO, we (Bahamas) are being systematically disbanded and destroyed because our own stupidity! Now, all we need to do is borrow more money from the IMF or World Bank and default on the payments. 3 years from now who will win the election?? and what's the difference between FNM and PLP again? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!! Divide and Rule! The BCC is sleeping with the 'enemy', instead of pacifying the poor and uninformed, they need to 'roll over' and whip the ones they're laying in bed with! What an obvious Pyramid scheme!

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BigDuffus 5 years, 3 months ago

Amen We bahamains are so dump. I have friends that will not take to each other every 4 years cus one FNM and one PLP. The FNM and the PLP know what each other is going to do. Their main gole is to keep me and u fighting so we will not come together cus they know if we do nothing will stop us. It make s me laugh when some one says one party is no good. They are both the same. the only reason they have two names it so they can play us.

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

also it should be noted that the only reason Genting is pushing so hard on this project is to change the current offshore gambling laws in Florida. As it stands now, gambling boats cannot go out for short trips anymore and return back to port in Florida. Any boat that leaves a Florida port to international waters must check in at a foreign port before returning to a U.S port. This basically stops all the gambling ships from operating miles off of the U.S coast. Genting is hoping that by doing this, the Florida gaming board will relax the offshore gambling laws due to the loss of gambling taxes to Bimini. Once this law is changed, Genting will dump Bimini and continue to reap massive gambling profits offshore from Florida, and recover any investment losses in bimini quite quickly. the end result? Bimini turns into an over developed ghost town, with a destroyed environment.

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ikorky 5 years, 4 months ago

This makes no sense, and who cares about any "alterior" motive.....bottom line here comes someone with half a billion dollars to invest in its country and infrastructure...their shouldnt ne any if ands or butts...

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ThisIsOurs 5 years, 4 months ago

And that's the problem. The love of money blinds you to the other invaluable assets we were given

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B_I_D___ 5 years, 4 months ago

But in the name of 'progress' and economic gain, you are going to destroy most of what Bimini is famous for, it's diving and it's fishing, so we are going to screw that all up for decades, maybe longer, so we can build a stupid pier that likely will not function properly anyways in adverse weather, so you can also overpopulate and destroy the essence of a nice 'out island' community and experience. Not to worry, dollar signs reign supreme here in spite of every other common sense aspect.

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

IKORKY.. Maby you should educate yourself, unfortunately I do not have the time to sit here and educate you on the all the problems this development will create. Personally i am all for development, I will go as far to say that I have a marine construction background. There is nothing that you can say to me to change my mind, because simply i know more about this than you do.....period. If you want to keep spouting off nonsense with no supporting evidence, then go ahead. As far as I can tell you are the only one here with that opinion, and that leads me to believe one of two things.

1) you are a paid shill 2) you really are as stupid as you sound.

also the correct spelling is ulterior not alterior.

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crabman 5 years, 4 months ago

ya reap what ya sow.....ya suckers sell ya souls for school fees and pampers when Obie starts dancing around during the election, when the world starts to boycott Bimini, go ahead and reelect, fools......

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242orgetslu 5 years, 4 months ago

PLEASE READ AND PASS ON! This is the link where the full story is: http://si.com/vault/article/magazine/...">http://si.com/vault/article/magazine/...

Across the inky-blue Gulf Stream from Florida, near the sheer edge of the Great Bahama Bank, a new island is emerging from the sea. Although it bears the appealing name Ocean Cay, this new island is not, and never will be, a palm-fringed paradise of the sort the Bahamian government promotes in travel ads. No brace of love doves would ever choose Ocean Cay for a honeymoon; no beauty in a brief bikini would waste her sweetness on such desert air. Of all the 3,000 islands and islets and cays in the Bahamas, Ocean Cay is the least lovely. It is a flat, roughly rectangular island which, when completed, will be 200 acres and will resemble a barren swatch of the Sahara. Ocean Cay does not need allure. It is being dredged up from the seabed by the Dillingham Corporation of Hawaii for an explicit purpose that will surely repel more tourists than it will attract. In simplest terms, Ocean Cay is a big sandpile on which the Dillingham Corporation will pile more sand that it will subsequently sell on the U.S. mainland. The sand that Dillingham is dredging is a specific form of calcium carbonate called aragonite, which is used primarily in the manufacture of cement and as a soil neutralizer. For the past 5,000 years or so, with the flood of the tide, waters from the deep have moved over the Bahamian shallows, usually warming them in the process so that some of the calcium carbonate in solution precipitated out. As a consequence, today along edges of the Great Bahama Bank there are broad drifts, long bars and curving barchans of pure aragonite. Limestone, the prime source of calcium carbonate, must be quarried, crushed and recrushed, and in some instances refined before it can be utilized. By contrast, the aragonite of the Bahamian shallows is loose and shifty stuff, easily sucked up by a hydraulic dredge from a depth of one or two fathoms. The largest granules in the Bahamian drifts are little more than a millimeter in diameter. Because of its fineness and purity, the Bahamian aragonite can be used, agriculturally or industrially, without much fuss and bother. It is a unique endowment. There are similar aragonite drifts scattered here and there in the warm shallows of the world, but nowhere as abundantly as in the Bahamas. In exchange for royalties, the Dillingham Corporation has exclusive rights in four Bahamian areas totaling 8,235 square miles. In these areas there are about four billion cubic yards—roughly 7.5 billion long tons—of aragonite. At rock-bottom price the whole deposit is worth more than $15 billion. An experienced dredging company like Dillingham should be able to suck up 10 million tons a year, which will net the Bahamian government an annual royalty of about $600,000.

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i_land_boy 5 years, 4 months ago

you do realize that this article was written in 1970, 44 years ago, while it is somewhat relevant, people should understand this is very old news

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kairosmatt 5 years, 4 months ago

Ikorki lists all the benefits that he is attributing to RW and Genting. What about the bad stuff? The lack of power and water because the development sucks it all up? The traffic? The huge trash issue? The massive increase in abandoned cars in the past 12 months? Not even to mention the obvious issue of massive and irresponsible environmental destruction.

Genting is only indirectly responsible for most of those benefits he or she lists. Genting is directly responsible for all of those problems listed here.

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killemwitdakno 5 years, 4 months ago

So how could they be here and the trial is complete if the scale of this devastation is only just released. This is another example of Dorsett's major failure with EPA's. He needs to be fired. I pray for Hurricane to specifically touch this ruthlessly conniving government. Biminites were excellent stewards of their home.

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