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Macqueripe Bay under EMA’s microscope

Monday, January 12 2009

THE Environmental Management Authority (EMA) said it has not ruled out legal action against the Chaguaramas Development Authority (CDA), but will continue to monitor improvement work at Macqueripe Bay.

The EMA’s chief executive officer Dr Joth Singh and compliance officers visited the site in December and found evidence that some of the conditions identified in the Certificate of Environmental Clearance (CEC) were not being adhered to and “some environmental impacts were not mitigated.”

The CDA was granted a CEC in January, 2007, to upgrade the infrastructure and access to the bay area as part of its Chaguaramas Development Plan.

However, the EMA said there have been increasing reports of polluted waters and disgruntled sea bathers using the bay, considered one of Trinidad’s best beaches in the western peninsular.

Plans for the facility included the replacement of old concrete walls along the beach, the creation of more beach space by the removal of concrete platforms and the construction of an access road from the car park to allow disabled persons and emergency vehicles to gain access to the beach.

In the CEC granted to the EMA, it was advised that all clearing of vegetation, grading, excavation and filling should be done in a manner to prevent erosion and siltation and site preparation and construction should begin in the dry season to prevent erosion by the heavily silted run-off at the site. Work at the site began in the latter half of 2008, during the rainy season. The EMA said during the site visit, there was construction rubble on the beach and no retention pond to prevent material from reaching the water, although there were instructions in the CEC for designation of temporary drainage to “prevent run-off of silted material into any municipal drain, surrounding areas, watercourse or the near shore marine area.”

There were also improperly arranged sand bags, and the EMA team identified an excavator as the major contributor for the sand and silt muddying the water and torn signs leading to the facility.

The EMA, in a follow-up visit on Tuesday, did acknowledge that there was some evidence of voluntary compliance and will continue to liaise with the CDA and the Institute of Marine Affairs to assess any ecological damage to determine whether any additional measures were necessary. Newsday made several attempts this week to speak to CDA general manager Judith Mark for a comment on the Macqueripe Bay improvement project.

On Monday, she was said to be in a meeting and the call was directed to Junior Serrette, marketing manager for the CDA who said Mark would be the best person to speak to on the issue.

Again on Tuesday, Newsday was told that a press release would be sent out before the end of the week while again on Wednesday, Mark was said to be in a meeting and the messages left for her were not returned.

On Friday, another attempt was made to reach Mark, but Newsday was told that she was in a meeting but had received her messages and wanted to respond via a press statement.

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