Residents in uproar over Martin Marietta Bahama Rock plans for expansion
Martin Marietta Bahama Rock is in the process of applying to the Government of The Bahamas for approval to turn large areas of the Eight Mile Rock community into a limestone quarry. The valuable high quality limestone is used domestically and exported. Their argument is that they will leave behind a deeper harbour for Super Post Panamax vessels which will be used in the future. (24 Jul 2008) Earthcare
24 July 2008
Eight Mile Rock, Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas: On Thursday, 24th July Martin Marietta Bahama Rock an aggregate manufacturer will hold the second of two Town Meetings to discuss their plans for expansion. The Town Meetings are a prerequisite for the company's Environmental Impact Assessment which is in preparation. Martin Marietta Bahama Rock is in the process of applying to the Government of The Bahamas for approval to turn large areas of the Eight Mile Rock community into a limestone quarry. The valuable high quality limestone is used domestically and exported. Their argument is that they will leave behind a deeper harbour for Super Post Panamax vessels which will be used in the future.
Residents of the immediate area are concerned because the structural soundness of their houses has been compromised from the constant blasting done by Martin Marietta Bahama Rock. The company refuses to admit to any responsibility for the damages. Residents are also very concerned because the plans include the company using precious valuable wetlands which include extensive mangroves. The island is home to extensive underground cavern systems which play important roles in the hydrology of the island. The development of the harbour has significantly damaged these fragile underground cave systems
The first Town Meeting was held on July 17th. The exchanges were often heated and the atmosphere became hostile at times. Prescott Smith, a bonefishing expert originally from Grand Bahama flew in from the island of Andros to share his knowledge with the audience. Mr. Smith, whose family owns three bonefishing lodges, said, "The Bahamas has the largest tropical mangrove nursery system in the world. He noted that Grand Bahama has the second largest fish nursery system in the country.
He believes that the project proposed by Martin Marietta Bahama Rock on the north shore could have negative implications not only for the community of Eight Mile Rock but also for marine life.
"Grand Bahama's south side already has eight places cut straight through the island, and you have destroyed millions of gallons of fresh water lens on this island. But, Grand Bahama has the second largest nursery system in The Bahamas, and north side is where all the mangroves are that replenish the Little Bahama Bank.
"I came to Grand Bahama today because I am concerned about you. If the marine resources collapse around Grand Bahama it could affect the entire Bahamas," he said.
Mr. Smith stressed that Grand Bahama is one of only four islands in The Bahamas which has a vast pine forest. He said putting salt water in the fresh water lens would destroy the pine trees.
Mr. Smith said that Bahamians must look at sustainable ways to preserve the environment for generations of Bahamians to come.
Members of the Grand Bahama Committee for Concerned Residents are actively seeking signatures on petitions to show to the Government that residents of the community are opposed to the expansion of the company into their community. On 26th July, Mangrove Action Day, GBCCR committee members will be going door to door to educate persons in the community about the importance of mangroves. Persons who live on the boundaries of the project have suffered damage to their homes. The consensus is that if the company moves further west that more houses and more freshwater lenses will be damaged. Already the Caribbean pine forests that used to flourish in the area adjacent to the Martin Marietta Bahama Rock quarry are dying because the once freshwater lens underground has been inundated with saltwater intrusion. The company plans to leave the country in 10 years after they have gotten as much aggregate as they can. Residents will be left to deal with the devastation of lost mangrove resources, dead pine forests, devalued properties, damaged homes and greater vulnerability to catastrophic storms.
P. O. Box F 40064
Freeport, The Bahamas