Environmental assessment terms revealed for East End Seaport

The terms of reference
for the Environmental Impact Assessment on the proposed East End Seaport have
been made public.

“The development of a
new seaport on Grand Cayman could provide much needed economic development and
prosperity, but it is essential that this project be designed in a way that
will protect the human, natural and cultural resources that make this island
unique,” the terms of reference document states.

Developed with and
agreed to by the Cayman Islands Department of Environment, the terms outline 10
specific tasks, including the introduction and description of the project, the
explanation of its need, an analysis of alternatives – including a no-action
alternative – and identifying the legislative and regulatory considerations
necessary for the project.

Tasks (5) and (7) of the
terms get into the meat of the environmental impact assessment, with Task (5)
requiring a detailed study of the area of the project in particular and of
Grand Cayman in general. This task requires the presentation of baseline data
pertaining to the socioeconomic and cultural resource environment, the physical
environment and the biological environment. The assessment of the physical
environment requires a detailed description of the geology of the area.

“This will require
analysis of existing data from the Water Authority and other sources and field
collection of new data,” the document states, adding that concurrent with the
review of existing data, additional data must also be collected.  Specifically required is the drilling of a
transect of five to six completely cored wells at least 150 feet below the
water table in the project area from the coast to the edge of the fresh water
lens. Field observations during drilling are required and the cores would be
saved, labelled and tested.

“Data from these
analyses are to be used in a groundwater computer model to predict the effects
of the excavation on the fresh water lens,” the document states.

The water in the wells
is required to be tested, specifically for salt content.

Another aspect of the
physical environment presentation required is on wave and ocean current
activity.

“[The EIA requires] a
presentation of data (wave height, wave period, wave direction and percent of
occurrence over the period of record) and discussion of the wave climate in the
vicinity of the site based upon records in long-term wave model databases,” the
terms of reference state. “Also included will be an analysis of extreme wave
height based upon records in long-term wave model data bases and historical
data.”

The data would also
include a discussion on local currents and the potential for sediment transport
potential in the vicinity of the site in both normal and extreme conditions.

The description must
also include the biological environment, which takes into account terrestrial
and marine vegetation and fauna, including endangered species, wetlands, coral
reefs, sensitive habitats and natural features such as caves and fissures.

The terms of reference
require three specific elements concerning the marine resources component of
the assessment, including conducting “a survey for corals and other associated
benthic habitats in the project area utilising a methodology agreed with the
Department of Environment” and a survey “for fish and other marine organisms
utilising a methodology submitted to the DoE”. 
Both surveys would be used to establish the status of marine life in the
area and then compare it with similar assessments conducted in the western
Caribbean.

The third marine element
of the assessment would require an ocean water quality and ocean floor sediment
analysis, and the identification of possible sources of degradation of the
quality of either as a result of the usage of the facility as proposed.

The impact assessment
would also be required to assess air quality, summarise noise levels and report
on the hazard vulnerability of the area resulting from the project,
specifically from flooding, hurricanes, storm surge, earthquakes and potential
impact from climate change.

The terms of reference
also require a description of the current infrastructure conditions regarding
roads, electricity, telecommunications, potable water and wastewater.

Task 7 requires the
assessment to determine the potential impacts – both positive and negative – of
the proposed project, paying special attention to the effects on sediment
transport; wave energy; marine water quality; existing ecosystems and
biological resources on land and in the ocean; maritime, boating and road
traffic; wastewater treatment and disposal; solid and hazardous waste; ambient
noise levels; air quality, hazard vulnerability; historical resources; and
existing socioeconomic state. With regard to the latter, the assessment would
have to look at potential impacts on agricultural interests, existing
commercial quarry operators and infrastructure costs on things such as roads
that would have to be borne by third parties.

The assessment would
also have to analyse the potential effects of dredging on the coastal stability
of adjacent shorelines and on groundwater resources, as well as the potential
effects of any blasting done on marine life, human safety and nearby residents.

The terms of reference
also require tasks to identify measures to prevent, minimise or compensate for
negative impacts; the development of a monitoring plan; and to assist in
governmental inter-agency coordination and participation with the public and
non-governmental organisations.

“The environmental
impact assessment report, to be presented in digital format, will be concise and
focus on significant environmental issues,” the terms of reference document
states.

Any consultants used in
the preparation of the assessment must demonstrate that they will have the
requisite expertise and experience and have “five-plus years experience in
assessing the environmental and social impacts of similar projects…
preferably in the Caribbean.”

 

The complete terms of
reference document has been published on the developer’s website at www.eastendseaport.com

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Editor, thanks for for this very important information. Hopefully we have an Environmental department that is knowledgeable enough to do their own assessment of the data collected.. After-all we would expect that department to have the final word.

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