Statement by the BEST Commission on the North Bimini Ferry Terminal Project
“BEST Response: To date, no request has been received by the BEST Commission from the BNT to discuss the EIA!!!!!!” THE WUTLESS DUTTY LIARS WORKING FOR THE BNT, SAVE THE BAYS! WHAT WOULD SOME DO TO DESTABILIZE THE DEVELOPMENT OF A COUNTRY!!!!
Nassau, Bahamas – In light of recent comments published in the local media concerning the pending North Bimini Terminal Project, the BEST Commission advises the public of the following:
The Bimini Bay Ferry Terminal review process started in March 2013 with a proposed set of Terms of Reference (TOR) presented by Blue Engineering a Bahamian registered company. The project had at that time been presented to the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA) as a foreign direct investment project.
The chronology of the review process is as follows;
The North Bimini Ferry Terminal Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) review process started March 2013; a TOR to produce the EIA was submitted to BEST by Blue Engineering Company, engineer of record of environmental matters related to the project. (An EIA or Environmental Impact Assessment reviews the possible impact that a project may have on the environment where it will be constructed.)
Upon initial review of the Terms Of Reference (TOR) and initial Draft of the EIA and the Environmental Management Plan (EMP) addendum received on 16th May, 2013, the Commission recognized the need for additional technical support in the areas of coastal engineering, marine construction and subsurface marine geotechnical analysis in the review of the EIA, and as a matter of urgency, requested the Government to approve the consultancy service of Black and Veatch International (BVI) at the developer’s expense to assist BEST in the review. (An EMP or Environmental Management Plan is a plan that is tailored to each project ensuring that all environmental laws are adhered to and measures are put in place to protect and mitigate potential impacts to the environment)
Black and Veatch International (BVI) was engaged as the BEST Commission external reviewer on the 26 June 2013, after protracted negotiations. The cost of their services is less than the $250,000 being reported. Once engaged BVI began the process of reviewing all documentation for the proposed project, BEST, the Port Controller and BVI visited Bimini to assess the overall site conditions for the jetty on the 23 July, 2013.
An initial technical review meeting was held on 24th July, 2013 to discuss the initial responses from BEST on the EIA Review. The meeting held in Nassau included representatives of the BEST Commission, BVI, the Bahamas Investment Authority (BIA), RAV Bahamas, Bimini Bay, Blue Engineering, Ocean Consulting and the Ministry of The Environment and Housing (MTEH).
On 29 July, 2013 BEST submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and Housing a Memorandum recommending conditional approval of the Jetty, subject to several conditions:
Shoreline monitoring; a baseline survey of the entire coast line (a beach profile and bathymetric survey) must be undertaken as soon as practicable, to establish the baseline conditions for shoreline monitoring. The Developer agreed to extend the baseline survey and monitoring to – 5,000 feet up-current and down-current of the project site.
Environmental Bonding; An environmental bond or other similar financial instrument is recommended to cover costs of beach enhancement/re-nourishment and maintenance as well as coral reef relocation monitoring, for any changes that may result on the shoreline during and after construction of the island ferry terminal.
Restricted Activities on the Ferry Terminal, no fueling operations, waste water or solid waste treatment facilities and or food preparation or restaurants should be permitted on the Ferry Terminal Island.
Revision of EIA and EMP; the EIA addendum must be revised to incorporate comments and recommendations agreed during the meeting of the 24 July, 2013. Upon completion of the EIA revision, it is recommended that the EIA and its addenda be published on the BEST Commission Website as part of public information efforts.
Employment of an Environmental Manager; the proposed works and methodologies are expected to have significant and if not actively managed, irreparable impacts to the surrounding sensitive receptors, coral reefs and existing dive sites located on the west side of North Bimini from turbidity plumes as well as noise and related marine construction activities. It is recommended that a suitable qualified local Environmental Manager be employed to ensure that all baseline studies be undertaken in accordance with the appended annexes and approved EMPs as well as, to interface with the various contractors engaged in proposed dredging works.
Approvals; It is strongly recommended that the approvals from the Departments of Physical Planning (DOPP), Land and Surveys (DOLS), Environmental Health Services (DEHS), Civil Designs of the Ministry of Public Works and Urban Development (MOPW&UD) and any requirements related to the engagement of a Bahamian competent structural engineering firm to oversee the construction activities be sought prior to the commencement of civil works.
Public Consultations; the Commission is in receipt of a letter from BIA advising that the OPM will advise on all public consultations for the proposed project. It is strongly recommended that such consultations be undertaken including the release of the revised EIA as soon as it becomes available and prior to the initiation of all works.
6. On the 17 September, 2013 Ocean Consulting Company a subcontractor to Blue Engineering, submitted electronically, to the Commission a Revised EIA and EMP for the Bimini Jetty to BEST. BEST indicated to Bimini Bay that the Bahamian company of record must submit the required documents in response to the 24 July meeting.
7. On 4 October, 2013 Blue Engineering Company submitted to BEST the revised EIA and EMP addendum.
8. On the 22 October 2013, the revised EIA and EMP addendum for the project following approval to publicly release the reports were posted on BEST website.
The BEST Commission would also like to clarify “concerns” raised by BNT in several releases in past weeks.
BNT Concern: Resorts World’s Bimini cruise ship terminal plan would “cause irreparable and continuing damage to the marine environment” if approved in its current form.
BEST Response: Dredging will impact the marine environment but the extent of the impact at this stage cannot be described as “irreparable”. It is expected that short term impacts and longer term ones will occur and these were detailed in the EIA. Turbidity control measures are detailed in the EMP which are expected to help to mitigate as well as assess the short term impacts from siltation and the possible loss of coral. The base line assessment is also reflected in the EIA, which will be used as the yard stick to compare any longer term impacts. The EMP also includes provisions for the monitoring of the coastline throughout the life cycle of the terminal.
BNT Concern: Expressing “grave concern” that construction had begun on the offshore jetty, said the Government had not confirmed whether it had reviewed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) supplied by Resorts World.
BEST Response: The EIA review process began in March, 2013. The BEST Commission has since received a revised EIA and received several addenda to the EIA. The EMP is a living document and will be revised as necessary to mitigate any negative environmental impacts.
BNT Concern: The developer has supplied a copy of the EIA to the BNT, along with the appendices and Environmental Management Plan (EMP) in response to a further request.
BEST Response: The EIA process requires a public consultation component. The Commission is in receipt of a letter from the BIA advising that the OPM will advise on all public consultations for the proposed project. The official release of the EIA and EMP was made through the BEST Commission’s website after approval was received from the MOTE&H. The reports are now publicly available.
BNT Concern: Concern that there had been no public consultation on the EIA, and that the document had not been published for review by the Bahamian public, the BNT added that it could not support the current cruise ship proposal.
BEST Response: The official release of the EIA and EMP was made through the BEST Commission’s website after approval was received from the MOTE&H. The reports are now publicly available.
BNT Concern : It is the view of the BNT that the proposed location for the jetty, artificial island and extensive dredging for this development, in close proximity to so many key dive sites, is incompatible with sound environmental policy and practice and, if approved, will likely cause irreparable and continuing damage to the marine environment of Bimini,” the BNT said in a statement.
BEST Response: The proposal and EIA submitted to the BEST Commission does not include plans to locate the artificial island atop a live reef. In addition, the final EIA does not include a turning basin. Prop wash however, is an unavoidable possibility; the impact of which remains to be assessed. Long term monitoring has been recommended to address this possibility as one of the conditions of approvals recommended by the BEST Commission.
BNT Concern: Acknowledging the importance of Resorts World’s Bimini investment in generating hundreds of Bahamian jobs and economic growth, the BNT said it was seeking a meeting with government agencies, including the Bahamas Environment, Science and Technology (BEST) Commission, to discuss its findings and offer alternatives to lessen the impact on the marine environment.
BEST Response: To date, no request has been received by the BEST Commission from the BNT to discuss the EIA. The BEST Commission is available to meet with the BNT or any member of the public at their convenience. We will also seek to engage our external consultants BVI by telephone, once a request is made to ensure that all questions and concerns are addressed. The EIA, its addenda and the EMP are also in the offices of the BEST Commission and are available for public viewing and query.
Additionally, the EIA and EMP addendum for Temporary Dock were received by BEST on 15th October, 2013. This component was not included in the initial review of the EIA and EMP addendum for North Bimini Ferry Terminal. The EIA for Temporary Dock was not posted on the BEST Commission website.