By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
Environmental activist Joseph Darville is outraged over the docking and offloading of a cargo ship allegedly laden with a shipment of wood infested with an invasive beetle that destroys crops.
The “Pan Jasmine” cargo vessel is allegedly docked at Bradford Marine in Freeport. It was initially inspected by US Federal Agents near New Orleans and denied entry after the cargo of wood was discovered infested with a type of Asian beetle that has been destroying trees in the US for about 25 years.
According to reports, the ship was ordered to leave US waters and departed July 21 for Freeport, Bahamas, for disposal.
Some of the shipment has already been offloaded and taken to the landfill in Freeport, according to Mr Darville, who is calling on Bahamian authorities to immediately investigate the matter.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” Mr Darville lamented in a voice note posted and circulated on social media.
“That stuff, poison sh-- is already on the island. It is stored at Bradford Marine, and in addition to that, the ship fooled the people by saying it is a regular tonnage and did not say anything about it being contaminated. And so, they were receiving it as if it was just stuff that can be discarded.”
Mr Darville, chairman of Save of the Bays, an environmental group, said an official at Sanitation Services has confirmed to him that some of the contaminated shipment is already at the landfill.
He said that the official said the shipment is in one area and has already been sprayed after learning it was contaminated.
“How can something like that happen in a modern city like Freeport? Who allowed them to offload that stuff?” asked Mr Darville.
“Who permitted Bradford Marine to allow that to be offloaded in Freeport, and offloaded also at the landfill?
“This is unbelievable. I hope whatever authorities in this country would get onto that immediately.”
“Are we becoming a dumping ground now for poisonous materials that Louisiana or Mississippi who would not even allow the ship to dock there, and the darn ship comes here? Who cleared the ship? Who allowed it to be cleared in our waters for this stuff to be offloaded and to be landed in Freeport. This is absolutely unbelievable,” Mr Darville stressed.
According to the website www.nola.com, it was reported that Federal agents inspecting a cargo ship near New Orleans ordered it out of the country after finding it infested with a type of Asian beetle that has been destroying trees in the US for about 25 years.
“They discovered the invasive beetle in wood onboard the Pan Jasmine on July 17, just after the 590-foot-long vessel anchored in the Mississippi River about a mile downriver from New Orleans, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials. Flagged under Panama, the ship had previously offloaded a shipment of aluminium in Veracruz, Mexico, after departing a port in India,” it read.
It further indicated that “Federal agents discovered the invasive beetle in wood onboard the Pan Jasmine on July 17, just after the 590-foot-long vessel anchored in the Mississippi River about a mile downriver from New Orleans, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials.
The article reported the beetle is of the Cerambycidae family of long-horned beetles that bore into the wood and can feed on a wide variety of trees in the US, eventually killing them. The. insect forms permanent colonies that can compete with native species and damage crops.
“If the wood had been offloaded into the US, it would have been put in a Louisiana landfill where the insects could crawl out and invade the local habitat, causing incalculable damage,” said Terri Edwards, the agency’s New Orleans area port director.
Cerambycids were first discovered in the US in New York City in 1996. Native to China and the Korean peninsula, the beetles were accidentally imported into the US via wooden shipping materials. Within two years, infestations resulted in the destruction of almost 7,000 trees and control measures that have cost more than $530 million, the article reported.
“If left uncontrolled, Cerambycids and other invasive wood-boring beetles could cause more than $100 billion in damage to the US economy, according to the Agriculture Department.