Nova Shrimp explains hatchery plan

Two consultants to Nova Companies Belize Ltd. presented their hatchery plan to San Pedro in two sessions on Thursday, June 19th. In the afternoon, the plan was presented to the San Pedro Town Board. At 7:30 p.m., to the general public.

Granvil Treece, aquaculture specialist of Texas A&M University talked about shrimp hatcheries an how they function, leading the group through a television presentation of the simulated hatchery - form the original pipeline providing sea water, the various stages of larvae growth to the disposing of effluent.

José Pepé Garcia of Tunich-Nah Consultants, Belize City, explained the physical set up of the plant. He said the plant, which will have 1.15 million gallons of treated seawater storage, should start operating in July of 1999, with 35 people living in a barracks building on the property. 65 jobs would eventually be created. He explained that the facility would use an incinerator for solid waste disposal; rain water for potable water; composting toilets for domestic effluents; grey water would be disposed of with the hatchery water. There will be no septic tanks. Fuel for the electricity generator located to the rear of the property will be diesel. The fuel, contained in fuel trucks, will be barged from Belize City and then trucked to the site. Mr. Garcia explained that the seawater effluent from the hatchery would be filtered and treatment, including aeration, will produce water that is (99.9% of the time) cleaner than the intake water. He said there were two choices to dispose of the effluent - either through injection into a well to be drilled on the property or by disposal into a cenote behind the property, located on the Basil Jones property which is controlled by the North Ambergris Caye Corporation. Ismael Fabro, Chief Environmental officer, Ministry of the Environment, asked about the cenote and its history. Mr. Garcia said this was the same cenote that was once considered as a possible water source for San Pedro he investigated ten years ago. He said when they pumped the cenote, 300,000 to 400,000 gallons were pumped and the water level did not drop. As the pumping progressed the salinity content increased. From this he deduced the cenote would not serve as a water source for San Pedro since it was most likely connected to the sea at some point. Mr. Garcia said he thought the cenote was the better option for disposal and if it proves right, there will be an offer to purchase the land from the government. In reply to questions concerning site selection, he said that water quality was the primary reason. He said the Basil Jones airstrip was a part of the site selection, but was not essential for the hatchery. The roads to the hatchery property will be at the rear of the seaside properties, located on North Ambergris Caye Corporation/Government of Belize land.

Greg Smith, a local landowner, asked about the status of First Company in the situation, since it appeared that the road, airstrip and pier costs would be borne by Nova Shrimp. John Grief Sr. chief shareholder in First Company replied, "There will be other people living on that part of the island besides you and if you want to live the way you have you'll have to find another island." Mr. Smith asked what safeguards there would be during the construction phase and said that one of the barges bringing up construction material to the site ran into a coral head. The use of the lagoon for barging fuels, etc. was mentioned. Mr. Grief turned to Mr. Smith and said, "You are an idiot."

Fidel Ancona, Chairman of the North Ambergris Caye Corporation (NACDC) and also a consultant to Nova Shrimp, said that the NACDC had endorsed the First Company proposal (to open the airstrip) and sent it to cabinet. The OK was given a few months ago, he said.

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