by Emmanuel Joseph
The proposed $300 million Sugar Point Cruise Terminal earmarked for the Bridgetown Port, is expected to impair the quality of sea water, impact negatively on marine and human life, cause pollution and run the risk of oil spills.
These are among some of the major concerns outlined in the Environmental Impact Assessment Study for cruise marine works and the relocation of existing sewage outfall, carried out by W.F.Baird and Associates Coastal Engineers Limited just made public.
The study said water quality and pollution control were concerns during both construction and operation of the facility, which will be built immediately adjacent to, and southwest of the Port of Bridgetown.
“Impaired water quality can be detrimental to the health of marine life, such as corals, as well as humans coming into contact with the water,” pointed out the report. It said increased turbidity or pollution of the water was expected during construction, particularly during dredging and land reclamation operations.
“This is detrimental to marine communities as a result of increased suspended sediments within the water column and the increased sedimentation on benthic (living at bottom of sea) organisms,” the engineers concluded. However, the study assured, that this will be a temporary impact during the construction phase and can be managed to minimise or mitigate impacts on marine life.
The report, dated August 2013, went on to say that the risk of marine pollution was inherent in the operations of the proposed project and was addressed through design and management of the terminal. Some of the concerns identified were the risks of spills (oil), which the engineers suggested could be avoided through “best management practices.”
“A spill response plan,” the engineers’ report recommended, “is required to reduce or mitigate the impact in the event of a spill incident. Existing response plans which may be applicable, are that of the Bridgetown Port and the Barbados National Oil Company’s spill response plan.”
Another concern pinpointed was incorrect waste disposal, counter measures for which are to be introduced. Along with preventative measures, the study found that a systematic water quality monitoring programme would be important in applying established limits and must be designed to effectively detect non-compliance and trigger response, if limits were reached. It was also assessed, that the impacts associated with air quality, dust and noise, were not anticipated to exceed or vary significantly from those typical in large scale construction.
“During construction, there will be a temporary increase in vehicular and equipment emissions. Mitigation options include, preventative methods such as regular maintenance of vehicles and equipment, limits on engine idle time and avoidance of truck queuing,” the report outlined.
The engineering experts gave the assurance, too, that dust would be controlled with “appropriate” methods such as watering, temporary surface treatment, screening and use of “appropriate” transportation. With respect to noise and vibration, which the assessors admitted would be generated during construction, they said work practices and initiatives can be applied to minimize noise impacts when possible, feasible and reasonable. The environmental impact assessment also recognised that safe navigation was a critical area which needed attention.
The report noted that seven simulations carried out, demonstrated that the proposed project layout, allowed for the safe arrival and departure of large cruise ships, with no navigation worries raised by the captains. The impact this cruise terminal facility was likely to have on the recently inscribed UNESCO World Heritage Property of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, also attracted the attention of the engineers from Baird and Associates.
They reported that a portion of the land reclamation area falls within the buffer zone of the heritage property. None of the terminals or berthing areas, the researchers, found, fall within the buffer zone.
“The offshore site is not known to have archeological significance and therefore, there is no particular reason to expect buried material, culture or other finds of archeological interest.” The experts revealed that the project specification will make provisions in the event material, culture or other items of archeological importance are uncovered during construction. Consultation and research with local agencies such as the Barbados Museum and Historical Society are ongoing, disclosed the report.
The document declared that negative social impacts were expected to be minimal or could be reduced. For example, it noted that the use of the linear water front park will be temporarily disrupted during the building process. However, this, it stated, would be reinstated on completion of the facility.
“No negative impacts are anticipated to the beach and near shore areas along Carlisle Bay, which is popular with recreational users, the offshore area to be occupied by the development will no longer be available to potential users for activities such as water sports, snorkelling, diving, sailing and fishing.”
“However,” explained the study, ”there is no indication that this site is of particular importance for these activities. The project will consist of three cruise ship piers that will connect to about 15 acres of reclaimed land for future development. The proposed venture is intended to service the full range of cruise ships operating in the Caribbean, including the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines’ Oasis, which is the largest class of cruise vessels present in operation. [email protected]