Letter published in Belize AgReport from Pro-Organic Belize Board of Directors
It has been brought to our attention that very serious irrevocable damage to the beautiful landscape of Stann Creek is being put into place with the purchase of the 15,000 acre White Ridge Farm. The buyer, a multi-billion dollar company from the US, Vulcan Materials Company (VMC), plans to strip away the forest and soil, blast the limestone hills, crush the rocks and transport them to ships on a conveyer system near the largest Hawksbill sea turtle nesting beach and largest congregation of manatees in the western Caribbean. Furthermore, extensive dredging must be done to accommodate the anchorage and turning of 750 foot long ships. The water used and discarded during the mining operations will find its way into limestone conduits and show up in ground water used by farmers and households both local and distant. Dust from the operations will change the quality of air for miles around. The sound of constant heavy machinery will replace the serene sounds of the forest and the waves lapping on the beach. It is of grave concern to us that allowing VMC to deforest the hills, remove the soil, contaminate the ground water and streams, change the water table and flow dynamics of the water in the region, disrupt the habitat of both wildlife and aquatic life in the area, endanger the Hawksbill sea turtles and manatees, in particular, is not compatible with long-term conservation of nature or Belize’s natural resources. The disruption of the regional ecosystems, cultural traditions and upheaval of cultural values outweighs whatever promises VMC makes to improve the economy of the area. The extensive litigation VMC is currently undergoing exemplifies our concern that their stated commitment “to be responsible stewards with respect to the safety and environmental impact of our operations and products” is ignored operationally. Public protest by Mexican citizens just south of Playa del Carmen where VMC is damaging the landscape by their mining operations should be proof of VMC’s violation of their promises. Their stated commitment “to earn superior returns for our shareholders” seems to be of higher priority than adhering to conservation of nature in a land far removed from their shareholders. Just as the citizens in many local areas in the US have litigated against VMC to prevent them from damaging their environment we in Belize should be proactive to conserve our environment as well. We urge all citizens to express their concern to the government of Belize over this egregious attempt to exploit and destroy our natural resources and urge GOB to preserve Gale’s Point for future generations to enjoy.
Board of Directors, Pro-Organic Belize