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Sep 24, 2021

Another Round of Public Consultations for Proposed Waterloo Project

On Thursday night we brought you snippets of the Port of Belize Expansion Project’s virtual public consultation. It was the second round of consultations, following a request by the National Environmental Assessment Committee (NEAC) to have the project’s ESIA revisited. An addendum to the original environmental and social impact assessment will see the developers ditch their offshore dumping plans for what they believe to be a more environmentally friendly approach. This new approach was detailed in last night’s consultations followed by questions from stakeholders in the environment and tourism.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Port of Belize Expansion Project held its second round of virtual public consultations on Thursday evening to announce changes made to the original Environmental and Social Impact Assessment. One of the key changes to the ESIA is the placement of seven point five million cubic meters of dredged material.


Allen Herrera

Allen Herrera, Nextera Environmental and Engineering Consultancy

“The diagram here shows the onshore and nearshore areas as presented in the ESIA that was presented last year. Couple of things we need to notice. If our audience can see the EPZ area, that is the area onshore where some of the disposals will take place. So, it is in that area. IF we look at the blue area, we can see that is the area where the final sediments would have accumulated.”


The previous ESIA proposed that the silt be dumped offshore. While developers contended that the former proposal would not negatively impact marine life, environmental stakeholders quickly rejected the plan. With a new placement site identified on the Port’s property, the Belize Water Service Limited has raised concerns.


Allen Herrera

“We do notice in the media that the BWSL is concerned about their sewage ponds and the outflow from those ponds. I remember we had a meeting with them. I think it was in January last year and the whole purpose of the meeting was to see whether the BWS would be able to provide the development with water, which is important for the development. The talk came up about the mangroves which are used to strip nutrients from these ponds. They also mentioned that they would like the outflow to continue across the property.”


Developers noted that BWSL’s easement through its property will not be disturbed by the development, neither will the mangroves. And, according to Allen Herrera, with the help of a silt curtain, materials dumped at its placement site will not migrate.


Allen Herrera

“In the diagram below you will see that there is a geotextile and a silk curtain. And, those are anchored from the shore. And so, during the placement of the material there will be no chance that any sediments will be able to leave that area because of the geotextile membrane and the silk curtain that will be encasing that whole area.”


One participant, Tour Operator Tom Greenwood, asserted that the soils being dredged and dumped on the Port’s property are extremely contaminated.


Tom Greenwood, Tour Operator

“Please let’s not insult the intelligence of the Belizean people. Files upon files of historic events took place. When you start digging that place you will be digging extremely contaminated soil. Dumping that soil where you will dump it, I don’t know what the future of that will be, but I fear that it may not be as you have said.”


Luis Munoz

Luis Munoz, Consultant

“The fact is there is no such contaminants that will be dredged in the soil as a part of this project. As I mentioned, all of the soil that will be dredged material has never been excavated prior to its deposition thereby a geological act a hundred thousand years ago. That material was extensively tested. All of those test results are in the EIA. All of those test results states that there are no contaminants in the materials that are being excavated.”


Janelle Chanona, Vice President of OCEANA Belize, questioned whether developers have considered the offshore dumping area in front of the Port of Belize as being a part of the Caribbean Sea, and whether developers maintain that the project is contingent on the cruise port’s approval.


Luis Munoz

“I first take objection to it being referred to as an offshore area. That is the wrong terminology. This could be referred to as an inshore area or a near shore area. This is not offshore. This is a part of the Belize City lagoon.”


Allen Herrera

“It is the Caribbean Sea, Belize has only one sea. It is the Caribbean Sea. So that is indisputable.”


Janelle Chanona

Janelle Chanona, Vice President, Oceana Belize

“The alternative to ocean dumping is still dumping a significant amount of dredge spoils in the Caribbean sea. So thank you for clarifying to everyone here that we are dumping in the Caribbean Sea.”


Luis Munoz

“We will rely on the government’s approval in order to start undertaking any of the construction activities that have been proposed as a part of this project.”


Reporting For News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.


Approval is pending as NEAC continues to deliberate.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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