VIPP misleading public on port project risks

| 06/03/2020 | 36 Comments
Cayman News Service
Wreck of the Cali (Photo by Courtney Platt)

(CNS): The Environmental Assessment Board (EAB) said claims by the consortium that was chosen to build the controversial cruise project about the reduced environmental harm of this current design are misleading and the new plans may be just as damaging, or even more so, than those from 2015. The EAB has said Verdant Isle Port Partners must conduct an updated environmental impact assessment and a number of other important studies because much has changed and new risks and challenges have emerged.

The EAB, which is a subcommittee of the National Conservation Council and chaired by the Department of Environment, has now reviewed a scoping exercise submitted by the VIPP last month. The board made a long list of directions about what the consortium must do next in order to ensure this project is properly assessed and the construction element fully transparent before anything else happens.

In the EAB report, DoE officials warned that the new design has fundamentally changed and there are other factors that will need to be considered that were not part of the original EIA.

Some of the major issues that the EAB has immediately identified include the increase in passenger numbers, the change to the dredging location, the longer dredging period and changed method, the reduction in jobs both during and after the project, restricted access to the Wreck of the Cali, changes to mitigation measures and the impact on the local infrastructure.

But the board also noted that Verdant Isle failed to address some other critical factors in its scoping exercise, such as the addition of the cargo port project, which was not included in the 2015 EIA, and changes to how dredged material will be used for land reclamation, or if not, where it will be dumped.

The EAB also reported that VIPP has made persistent claims that this new project will provide “beneficial environmental effects”, but this was “misleading as many effects remain negative”. VIPP has not adequately justified the statements it has made about the claims of a lesser impact on the environment with data based evidence, the report noted.

The board said the positive or negative effects of this project “have not yet been quantified” and it will be the new independent EIA that will provide the information and transparency necessary to decide whether or not this redesign is actually an improvement on the last one when it comes to the impact on George Town Harbour’s unique marine environment.

Among the many broad concerns that the report raises include the need for a comprehensive and fully independent update to the existing EIA and the need to conduct other important geological surveys before or alongside that assessment. The EAB said that VIPP appeared to be planning to do these important studies after the EIA has been updated, which is not acceptable to the board. The report also raised the need to reassess the waves and sediment transportation for this new project and try to assess more definitively the risks posed to Seven Mile Beach.

The EAB dismissed claims that coral regrowth can be considered a genuine mitigation measure. The authors stated that this cannot offset the coral loss and at best can only be considered as a potential “other action” for attempting to mitigate the significant damage this project will have on the unique, ancient and in some cases pristine reef systems in the harbour.

From the impact on the existing attractions in Cayman, such as Stingray City and general beach access with the projected increase in visitors if the piers are constructed, to excessive emissions of greenhouse and other toxic gases, this redesigned project may be a long way from the ‘new and improved’ environmentally friendly version government and its port partners have been peddling to the Cayman public.

The EAB also supports the National Trust’s position that the government must wait until all of the geo-technical work and the EIA update is complete before it sets a new referendum date for the people’s vote, secured by the CPR group.

Given the extensive and in some cases alarming findings of the EAB, this design is not only fundamentally different but it appears to pose a whole new level of threat to the marine environment.

See the EAB’s full report in the CNS Library


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Category: development, Local News, Marine Environment, Science & Nature

Comments (36)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Got a funny feeling this whole Cruise Port thing is slowly becoming irrelevant. The Coronavirus is putting a massive hole in future passenger number projections.

  2. Anonymous says:

    ‘The new EIA should contain updates to areas including geology and soils, air quality, marine ecology, vehicular and pedestrian traffic, cargo and cruise operations, and socio-economic impact assessments.’ Or in plain English, ‘Do the job properly this time!’ Thank you Gina.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Read all the 2400 pages of the original EIA and you will find everything you are stating. However none of the CPR people or so called environmentalists have ever bothered to educate themselves. It has all been released and available to the public from the very beginning.

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    • Anonymous says:

      The EIA is one full stand alone report. The geotechnical report ( which would include geological survey) is another standalone report. The economic feasibility report should look at entire lifetime project costs (not just isolated construction phase), and should be a continuously evolving public document, open to public comment. There are also missing decommissioning and remediation plans, CSR package and performance bonds for every stage. We need adults in charge of defending public interests, not this Mickey Mouse conflation of different reports into one hastily drafted update, omitting/skipping of multiple project life stages, their individual phase costs, and without any financial bond on a 100% disposable Cayman shellco with no operating history.

  3. Chris Johnson says:

    Cannot wait until the Auditor General gets hold of this one.

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  4. Chris Johnson says:

    More of a tangled web than the Football Association. Lack of progress on that front should lead to a red card.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Queue CIFA-entangled previous Ministers and serial DUI crashers to pop up again for “new face” candidacy in the CDP/UDP run up to 2021. Round and round we go!

      • Anonymous says:

        Please don’t make me laugh! If you’re referring to Mr Anglin he is as washed up as some torn faded jeans.

        • Anonymous says:

          Ossie Bodden is spit-shining his hair and preparing for candidacy…Dr Frank McField is probably fully recovered from his mysterious bullet wounds and ready to run as well….the Carnival that is Cayman politics.

  5. Port User says:

    You can’t make an omlette without first breaking the eggs. If the doom-sayers were around at the time there would be no oil terminal on S. Church Street, no airport runway, no cargo port either.
    Get out of the dark ages!

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    • Anonymous says:

      The Caymanian people don’t get to eat the omlette, so we see little benefit in our eggs getting broken!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Clearly you are either misinformed or privileged. Many Caymanians depend on cruise tourism. BTW how much of the omlette do Caymanians get to eat from stayover tourism?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Troll

    • Anonymous says:

      I’ve got an idea. YOU get out of the dark ages. Your way of thinking is quickly losing traction as people finally (not too late I hope) wake up to the FACT that we need to respect our environment, or our environment will reject us. If you don’t believe me now, let’s check back in in a year or two. It will all look so obvious in hind sight.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Oil and air travel. Two huge contributors to the destruction of the planet. No thanks. Let’s move on.

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    • Wipeout Centipede says:

      Take out the R in your post name and it will tell u exactly why you can’t see that its you who is in the dark ages when it comes to the environment! And it appears you are smoking really bad stuff too! Eh!Numnuts!

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  6. Anonymous says:

    What a tangled web PPM and VIPP have weaved.

    Thank you CPR for leading the charge highlighting the issues and challenging the lies and misinformation.

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  7. ppm Distress Signal says:

    The lies told by Alden Moses and ppm are now being exposed. None of this government can be trusted to do the right thing. Vote them out!

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    • Anonymous says:

      More than that, we need to open the books and dig deeper so SIPL Committee, ACC, FCU, and DPP can take over to determine their going-forward political candidacy. FCO should be involved as well by now. At minimum, the Unity Cabinet are conspiring in bad faith against honesty and public transparency, using hundreds of thousands in public cash to do so.

  8. Anonymous says:

    What a surprise ! More and more lies just keep coming out.

    PPM should give up on this before they get booted out next election

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  9. Anonymous says:

    EAB doesn’t have any clue how destructive their instruction to begin a geo tech survey would be. It should be part of a comprehensive engineering study completed after an EIA, and a vote outcome. It is an entirely separate report. They cannot be green lighting exploratory activities in this marine park, to a random standard – before a vote – knowing the level of care and honesty displayed by this regime and VIPP so far. Once bad faith was proven (ie via recent judicial reviews), they should no longer be allowing them to exploit the public’s generous benefit of the doubt. All physical work beyond revised academic reports should be stopped.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Except, you – and they, including CIG – need the geotechnical assessment to know how much this project is really going to cost and what it really is going to entail. It sounds like their dredge process/plans are already changing. They could change again when the physical/engineering results come in. We/Cayman – CIG or the voters – can’t make an informed decision without all of the information.

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      • Anonymous says:

        I agree, I have been raising the subject of geological feasibility since the first cautionary EIA cane out – but an Engineering study is a separate report from an Updated Enviro Impact Assessment or an updated Economic Feasibility (which should be continuously evolving documents, taking entire impact cost into consideration, not just construction phase costs, and cannot be a static one time leaflet closed to comment).
        Also missing are Decommissioning and Remediation Plans and Corporate Social Responsibilities package. We need seasoned negotiators on the side of the public interest, and all phases (regardless if this actually goes ahead) should be backstopped with actual performance bonds, activities to an agreed Intl standard, with full transparency. We don’t even have a copy of the original bid documents, govt agreement, bid criteria, methodology, and panel for selection of winning bidder. We don’t even have a Speaker or Deputy Speaker to convene House to amend the growing pile of repugnant Laws, that might allow a new Referendum Law to determine if any of this goes forward. A little early to green light exploratory drilling n the marine park (an activity which creates an incredible amount of fine coral and sponge-suffocating particulate).

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      • Anonymous says:

        Bad faith = untrustworthy = additional public disclosure, authorization and verification required to ensure they are doing things in correct order, and to an agreed international standard. We haven’t seen anything close to that yet, and so far Unity Cabinet have shown they view their role as public/enviro stewards as an administrative hassle worth lobbying against with a considerable amount of our money! They’ve spent 3 or 4x the total annual budget for mental health and drug rehab, just fighting and trolling the public voters with false narratives. These efforts are contrary to the Nolan Principals and disqualifying.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The EAB was originally set up to help protect the environment from unscrupulous persons and groups who would be considered a detriment to our Islands. Who would have thought that their main job would be to fend off the government (especially this government) and unscrupulous groups from being a detriment to our Islands. This is crazy, they must be run ragged in this fight to save us! Why set up boards and committees like the EAB if core governments will fight tooth and nail to go against everything that it tries to do for us and our homeland. The greed on this little 2×4 rock is mind boggling and makes one wonder when is enough enough!! How many trolleys pulling behind their hearses will they need to take all their ill- gotten treasures with them? News flash- they and their treasures will be burnt to ash!! THEn WHAT?. What would it profit if they gain the whole world and lose their souls?

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  11. Anonymous says:

    Non issue. The point we are at in the election cycle renders the current port project dead. It won’t be resurrected until after the 2021 election.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Unfortunately you’re absolutely correct

    • Anonymous says:

      We don’t even have a Speaker or Deputy Speaker to convene LA and propose a new Referendum Bill for comment period, let alone the pile of other pending business. McKeeva and Unity Cabinet are impairing the governance and business of the territory.

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