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#496503 - 10/07/14 10:52 AM River Sickly White In Gracie Rock Again
Marty Offline
In May of this year villagers of Gracie Rock complained about the Sibun River becoming milky white. Months later, it is still happening. In this riverside community where residents depend on river water for almost everything, it is now been taking a toll on their livelihood. They want answers; they want to know why the river which has always brought them life, now looks so sickly:..

Phillip Clarke - Chairman of Gracie Rock Village
"What happen is that we have a situation in Gracie Rock, we have a construction company or a quarry company that's washing some stones up river in a place called Bonanza. What happen is that buy the stones and they take the stones and take the water from the river, wash the stones and the after that the water just return back in the river and it creates a white milky stuff that comes in the river and what it does after a while it settles down at the bottom of the river and all the fishes that were supposed to hatch in the dry season, now the eggs are all covered. So I don't know if we will have any fishes coming next dry season."

Monica Bodden reporting
According to the villagers of Gracie Rock, this problem has been occurring for some time now and it has been affecting the livelihood of villagers.

Phillip Clarke - Chairman of Gracie Rock Village
"We are little laid back village, so whatever happens here nobody seems to care. I even mention a while a back Mr. Jules Vasquez did a story and also Mr. Evan X Hyde commented about it in his editorial and nothing seems to be done. I also posts some pictures on Facebook and then I guess it just die like a natural death. But it's been happening before I even became chairman and nothing has been done and now that I am chairman, I've been trying to agitate it so that something be done because it affects us; our livelihood."

We traveled out to the area called Bonanza - the alleged place where the source of the problem is created. It's about 2 hours upstream from the village and a little over 30 minutes by road. No work was in effect on site but the problem is still happening.

Phillip Clarke - Chairman of Gracie Rock Village
"Some people use this water to drink, to bathe, for washing and it affects us a lot and these people don't seems to care. All they seem to be caring about is that they get the stuff washed and to hell with those who lives after them going down the river."

Monica Bodden
"Describe the water to me?"

Phillip Clarke - Chairman of Gracie Rock Village
"It's like you are drinking coffee and you add a lot of milk; it something like that."

Lloyd Belizaire - Villager of Gracie Rock
"Sometimes the residents of the village cannot use the water from the river because it looks green and it affects everyone."

Anthony Jeffers - Resident of Gracie Rock
"Sometimes it affects very much because we need it to wash and to drink and the color of it, you can't do anything."

Carlton Young - Riverside Orchard
"We can't strike any fish in the night because the water is dark and we can't see anything in there. So if you are depending for fish for tea tomorrow, you can't get it."

Orland Peters - Resident of Gracie Rock
"It affects me a lot because the water stays white every day."

Monica Bodden
"Tell us as a resident of the village, how important is the river for you? What's the use of it? What do you need it for?"

Orland Peters - Resident of Gracie Rock
"I drink the water and wash clothes with it - all kinds of things I do with the water."

Known for its emerald green waters - Gracie Rock village attracts many Belizeans for a Sunday swim. Here at Riverside Orchard - Carlton Young who is the owner says that due to the discoloration of the water, his business has been affected drastically.

Carlton Young - Riverside Orchard
"It used to get milky like every day or two. I come late in the evening and early in the morning and it keeps that color, it might only get clear for a little while and it came right back because they are doing some kind of construction work with the stones further up in the river. When the water gets dark you don't know which part of the river is shallow or deep you know. People come out here to have a little fun swim in the river - it's kind of scary for them. Late in the evening, it will stay like that and in the morning it will clear up a little bit and it comes right back 2-3 times for the week, sometimes maybe the whole week."`

Channel 7

#496539 - 10/08/14 11:00 AM Re: River Sickly White In Gracie Rock Again [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Mystery of The White River

Yesterday we told you about the Sibun River's ghostly, sickly colour and the effect it is having on the Gracie Rock community - which depends on the river for its livelihood. Villagers believe that quarry work, or what is legally classified as mining has created the discoloration in the river. But, the Geology Department - which is in charge of all mining activities - says they don't think so. The Department's Michelle Alvarez told us that the white colour we first saw in May was caused by a mining operation - upriver in the Bonanza area. But, that operation, run by Larry Flowers, has since ceased operation - and did not cause this spell of whitening. And neither did the other mining operation that sits on the river - that's the one in Gracie Rock operated by National Aggregates. Alvarez says none of them are to blame in this case and her department doesn't know what is!

Today National Aggregates sent out a press release saying, quote, "As the residents themselves know, this issue arises from miles upstream… National Aggregates reiterates that it has never and will not dump any aspect of its production or water back into the river and in fact, has its own man made lagoon and canals on its compound precisely for recycling of water from the washing. " End quote.

National Aggregates Ltd. Is the successor to Belize Aggregates Ltd. Which went into receivership. Most of its 38 employees come from Gracie Rock.

The Geology Department says it will continue to search for the source of this present discoloration.

Channel 7

#496689 - 10/11/14 11:01 AM Re: River Sickly White In Gracie Rock Again [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Sibun Site Visit By GOB Officials Suggestive, But Inconclusive

On Monday we told you about the disturbing discoloration of the Sibun River where it passes through Gracie Rock. Those villagers depend on the river for their livelihoods so its sickly state was a matter of much concern. Well, our story triggered a site visit from the Department of the Environment, the Forest Department and the Mining Unit of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

They went there on Wednesday October 9th - one week after our first visit - but, the bad news is they didn't find much. The report, which was sent to us by the CEO in the Ministry of Forestry, Fisheries and Sustainable Development - shows that by the time the team reached the river had cleared up.

The report includes pictures, which show that they visited five different locations along the Sibun River from Frank's Eddie Area up to Freetown Sibun area. Nowhere along the river did they find any visible signs of sedimentation.

The team also visited "Fien (Fine) Catch Limited", the tilapia farm formerly known as Fresh Catch where they didn't find any activities quote, "that may have the potential to create sedimentation of the Sibun River."

But at one of the sites, the abandoned mining operation called Bonanza, they did see a sedimentation plume along the banks of the river. The report notes, quote, "Runoff waters with heavy sediment loads were seen entering the river at this point." End quote. The mining operations at Bonanza stopped some months ago, we are told.

And while that would seem to be the culprit since villagers say the sediment came form upstream, the team also inspected the quarry at National Aggregates, formerly Belize Aggregates in the Gracie Rock Area. The quarry is approximately one mile from the river. The report notes that "thick sediment runoff was observed in the road drainage near this area, however (it) dissipated a short distance away." End quote. The report notes, quote, "This does not exclude the possibility that such sediment plume could have reached the Sibun River during a strong rain episode as we have experienced these past days."

The Owners of National Aggregates say that the road which is also made of limestone MAY runoff - but it's the villagers who asked them to fill the road. In which case, government would have to pave the road to eliminate any possibility of limestone runoff from it.

Channel 7


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