Chetumal Bridge Project Causing Environmental and Health Hazards

vlcsnap-2014-04-10-19h05m46s201Concerns over the environmental impact of the Chetumal Street Bridge project have been raised by fishermen and some residents of Belama.

We have already reported on the concerns of the squatters of the area, but our colleagues at KREM are reporting environmental impact concerns as well.

About a week ago, residents who live on the banks of the Belize River in Belama Phase 1 started seeing some changes in the waters: One concerned fisherman, Brian Claire, explained.

vlcsnap-2014-04-10-19h27m34s232Brian Claire- Concerned and Affected Citizen

“The whole creek water get stagnant and stent, small fishes started to die.  You see the whole river dried right up, and the whole, eema the Creek, eena Belama, so, the water started to change and smell”.

The river fish include cranna and tuba. The only fishes seen surviving the stagnating water are the poopsies or drain fish. Apart from the smell, the works are blocking a transportation route:

Brian Claire: “I mih tink dehn mih ahn keep like dat so, maybe drive the pile and what not, but today, I see the areas narrowed right in; you see the whole river dried right up.  It is affecting us to travel to the 5 miles kennel; you can’t enter now, which is about 200 feet away from the Chetumal Street area, doubling to the left, go all the way to the bridge and enter out to Northern Lagoon and Faber.  Now, who dih come from manatee, coming river (ca’ dehn mostly come on river when the rough time and that is why they dredged that area many years ago they call the 5 miles).  They come up this side to the Belize Old River, enter in and come up to the bridge”.

vlcsnap-2014-04-10-19h19m17s74Claire also said that earlier this week, a manatee apparently got lost and went into the canal in the residential area when it could not cross from one side of the river to the other.

We called the Department of Environment this afternoon to find out if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was done for the project.

They didn’t tell us specifically if an EIA was or was not done, however according to Edgar Eck, the acting Deputy Chief Environmental Officer, told Plus News that they did give the project Environmental Clearance.

vlcsnap-2014-04-10-19h04m35s16According to the Eck, when the department gives clearance to construction plan, they do so under specific terms and conditions.

The details of those terms and conditions have not been disclosed to us as yet and so we cannot say whether the ongoing project breaches the terms and conditions set by the Department of Environment.

Edgar Eck did tell us that if there are any concerns being raised of contamination in the rivers, they will need to go and investigate, but until we brought it up to them they had not received any complaints.

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