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Call to make Louis Lynch report public

Call to make Louis Lynch report public
The site of the former Louis Lynch Secondary school. (FILE)

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A medical doctor who sits in the Upper House has called for the environmental health report of the former Louis Lynch Secondary School, to be made public.

Independent senator Dr Christopher Maynard says he is wary of the Whitepark Road, St Michael site being used any time in the future since it could still be a danger to Barbadians.

Maynard was speaking in the Upper House yesterday, during a debate on the Crown Lands (Vesting and Disposal) Act 201.

“If as a Government we discover something in a school where children are exposed and are worried it might affect their future and the teachers, then we have an obligation, in this climate of openness, to tell people what it was,” he stressed.

He said yesterday’s resolution sought to pass the property on to another entity, which he was concerned about. “I don’t know the current status of the property. I have not seen a report from the EPD (Environmental Protection Department). I am concerned that in the long run if some of the things described have not been cleared, then we would be doing our people a disservice if we don’t tell them the truth.”

He added all documents related to the EPD report should be made public, so young and elderly Barbadians occupying the space at Whitepark Road would know if they are safe.

Earlier, in tabling the Bill, leader of Government business in the Senate, Dr Jerome Walcott, confirmed that environmental tests had indicated that at least seven volatile chemical compounds had been discovered at the site of the former school which had previously been used by businesses in the area.

Walcott noted, however, that the country’s Environmental Protection Department determined the levels of those compounds found were below accepted occupational health and safety requirements and at 23 parts per million in the soil, not an environmental health threat.

Opposition Senator, Caswell Franklyn queried why the site was being sold to the West India Biscuit Company (WIBISCO). “If we are going to have a centrally located place like this, I don’t believe you should take it away from the public,” he told the chamber. “I still have questions about if the place is environmentally sound. I know of several teachers and students of that school who got ill and died from various cancers. It was more than average.”

He suggested the sale of the property should have been put on the open market, adding the sale appeared to be a rush job to offload the property.

Deputy President of the Senate, Rudolph Greenidge also weighed in on the problems associated with the former school site.

“The environmental issues associated with the area were no secret. The purchaser, in this instance, knew of the problem. The environmental tests which were carried on at the Louis Lynch School, were carried on virtually simultaneously at the next-door neighbour, WIBISCO. There is nothing here which the vendor can hide from the purchaser. The purchaser knew of this problem from the very beginning,” Greenidge suggested.

He said those seated in the chamber would not want to be acting as attorneys at law for the purchaser of the land involved, noting that during the sale, requisitions would be carried out, which would have led to questions being asked of the vendor regarding environmental issues.

“This was never, ever a hush-hush matter,” Greenidge stressed while adding that no one should be giving the impression that Government is attempting to sell WIBISCO “something bad” deliberately. “Nothing about this property was ever swept under the carpet. It was a most publicised matter,” he concluded. (BA)