DoE and Allen remain at odds over anchor damage

| 23/02/2016 | 5 Comments
Cayman News Service

MV Tatoosh

(CNS): The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, one of the world’s richest men, is still arguing with the Department of Environment over the extent of the damage that marine experts here believe was caused by the anchor chain from his luxury 300ft yacht when it was in the Cayman Islands in January. Following the early stage clean-up work conducted by the DoE last week to save the live coral heads ripped off the reef by the chain, the repair project is now stalled.

Allen’s company, Vulcan Inc., is refusing to accept full culpability for the damage and the extent of the repair needed, claiming it is not responsible for the full 11,000 sqft of corals that local and independent marine experts identified as damaged in the area where the MV Tatoosh was anchored.

The DoE remains in discussions with Vulcan regarding the terms of the plan to deal with the damage but it is understood that the two parties have a number of disagreements, most of which boil down to the costs,  a point disputed by Vulcan which claimed costs is not the stumbling block. Said to be the 39th richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $17.6 billion, however, Allen’s company is quibbling over the liability.

In the latest statement from Vulcan, a spokesperson implied that the DoE was entirely at fault.

“Paul G. Allen and Vulcan’s focus is on repairing the coral, and we have stood ready and willing to do so for more than two weeks in the area identified by the Caymans Islands Department of Environment and its experts,” a release from Vulcan stated. “We are ready to put aside issues of liability, to be resolved later, to fix the coral now before it degrades further. By contrast, the Department has continued to delay approving or implementing action on the remediation plan, while attempting to impose broad obligations on Vulcan that have no basis in Caymanian law.”

The allegations go counter to the reports and the position of the DoE. CNS understands that the proposed plan itself is problematic and is not agreed by the parties for important reasons.

“The issues cited by the Cayman government as reasons for the continued delay are insufficient to prevent this remediation from moving ahead. We have agreed on the methodology to be followed, the physical area to be repaired, and the materials to be used. We once again call on the Department to join us now in the repair effort of the coral reef, which is the most pressing matter at this time,” the release said, even though not all of these issues have been agreed by Vulcan and the DoE.

Work has been carried out at the site by DoE and the firm contracted by Vulcan to help address the damage and to secure the live corals but the attachment work cannot proceed until the entire area of reef that has been damaged is stabilised.

Last week in a lengthy statement about the damage, the DoE said it was caching the dislodged corals as their survival was at immediate risk the longer they remain unattached. “This temporary stabilisation and removal of coral to a safe location is typically carried out following completion of an injury assessment to minimise further impact to the living tissue of corals that are candidates for reattachment,” DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie said.

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Category: Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (5)

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  1. Rp says:

    Doe,

    Let Vulcan get going with support instead of trying to figure out who’s fault it is. We have no chance against Allen’s legal team if we focus on liability. Port Authority will take much if not most of the blame in courts and we may not get any support from Allen.

    Let’s stop wasting time and start the reef remediation process ASAP.

    • Anonymous says:

      i completely agree! it may be that the facts when they come out will support Paul Allen. But who cares. He has been coming to Cayman (or at least his boat has) for many years and I assume its because he sees this as a good destination to bring his yacht. Not many do. Lets work with him and end this right with good publicity for the Islands and a repaired, health reef.

  2. Anonymous says:

    They will continue to to delay this hoping the Vulcan excepts full blame freely any Port Authority employees from any wrong doing. Why else would they be so adamant about them say it’s all our fault. The Tatoosh is going to just pull out of this and Cayman Tax payers will bear the financial burdon for a remediation plan managed by the CIG and we all know how those deals end up.

    Let the freaking guys fix the reef as they offered we all know that if they don’t no one else will. We should be glad they offered even in the face of uncertainty about who caused the damage, anyone else would have said if you think it’s our fault prove it and we’ll see you in court and that’s a battle Cayman would lose.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Get ‘er done DOE. Precious time is being wasted.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They will continue to be at odds until department of environment decides to prosecute the pilot boats owned by the tender operators for dropping anchors in the wrong place and accept culpability of Caymanians rather than blame the people that bring money into the island.

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