By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE Grand Bahama Environmental Association is calling on the Minnis administration to investigate the money spent by the former Christie administration for three scientific studies conducted in communities near the Industrial Park area.
The combined costs of the three studies is said to be high and the GBEA thinks this is not justified.
The association is challenging PLP Senator Dr Michael Darville, former minister for Grand Bahama in the Christie administration, to justify the costs of the studies.
"We have been doing research, and we cannot fathom how these studies could have cost what Senator Darville says they cost. This is highway robbery," said GBEA executive member Shuffel Hepburn.
Mr Hepburn claimed the studies were "faulty." The studies in question are the 2015 health risk assessment, a safety assessment and the E-Nose study which is ongoing.
The health risk assessment was conducted by the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the World Health Organisation(WHO) in November 2014 was done over an 11-month period, and it was concluded that there was no health risk to residents living near the industrial plants. The nearby residents and the association have rejected the findings.
Mr Hepburn noted that none of the residents was medically examined, yet it was concluded that there was no health risk to them.
"I am calling on Minister of State for Grand Bahama Kwasi Thompson and Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest to get to the bottom of the costs of these studies. We want to know who paid for these studies and how much was paid," he said.
He indicated that the safety assessment conducted by the Antea Group of the Netherlands took only two months to complete and involved no work on the ground in Grand Bahama.
The environmental activist said the scientists made only two visits to the area, and claims that no actual measurements were taken on site to determine the distances of residents' homes from the oil tanks.
He further alleges that no checks were done to determine what kind of fuel was in any of the tanks at Buckeye's plant.
The e-Nose study, according to the GBEA executive, involved the installation of 22 simple odour detectors that were put up on existing light poles in the affected communities.
He also added that there is no workforce on the ground for extended periods.
"The instruments provide all the data electronically. Further, the detectors are not measuring the actual air breathed by the residents," said Mr Hepburn.
For the past 30 years, residents of Pinder's Point, Lewis Yard, and Hawksbill have complained of foul odours and emissions emanating from the industrial plants.
Many of the residents are members of the association, which is calling for the relocation of persons from those affected communities.
The organisation and its members have been very critical of the former Christie administration, which indicated that the government had no intention of relocating residents because there had been no recommendations for relocation by PAHO and WHO, which conducted the 2015 health risk assessment study in the affected communities.
GBEA claims that it has written three letters to the new Minnis administration since taking office and has got no response.
"If this is the people's time then we call on the government to do something about this faulty data gathering they found in place and stop enabling the industrial companies in killing residents," Mr Hepburn said.
"I know that government is busy, but we are mad as hell that we have not heard from the minister of environment or anyone else," he said.
Mr Hepburn said residents continue to be troubled by "dangerous" odours and claims that every day another resident is diagnosed with cancer.
Former ambassador and FNM Cabinet member Maurice Moore, who lives just steps away from the Buckeye plant, recently disclosed earlier this year that he has cancer.
The association and residents believe the high incidents of cancer among residents there is linked to the alleged ongoing industrial pollution.