Clean-up has begun
Govt: Clean-up cost has not been inflated
Government has not talked up the pollution at Morgans Point to try to extract money from the US for the clean-up of the former base land, according to the Ministry of Public Works.
A spokesman, responding to claims from developer Craig Christensen that the mess left behind by the American military was not as bad as has been made out, said: The Bermuda Government has not talked up the pollution. Rather, in the past, when there have been claims of dangerous contaminants, we have undertaken further investigations as is necessary under our remit for due diligence and no such contaminants have been reported either to the Government or by the Government.
Mr Christensen, who plans to build a $2 billion luxury resort on the site with his fellow Morgans Point Ltd directors, suggested Governments $38 million estimate for the clean-up was inflated.
But the Ministry spokesman told The Royal Gazette on May 22: This figure is correct. There is no change in the estimated cost at this time. This will be subject to review but no significant cost increases are anticipated at this time.
He confirmed that the Ministry had begun clearing the peninsula in preparation for the main remediation work.
The Ministry of Public Works intends to appoint a remediation consultant to assist in monitoring and validating the works later this month, added the spokesman.
The remediation consultant has been selected through an RFP (requests for proposal) process, in accordance with Financial Instructions, and the review of the bids has been validated by the Office of Project Management and Procurement. The appointment is subject to meetings at the end of this month.
The spokesman said the contract for the actual works was under review.
An RFP was issued, price and quality bids returned and a best value contractor selected, he said. However, in line with the Governments intention to devolve capital works to local companies as far as possible and feed funding back into the Bermuda economy directly, the works contract is under further review.
It is envisaged that non-technical remediation works will be undertaken under smaller contracts locally, while the technical remediation works that require certification by qualified contractors in this field will be undertaken under separate contract.
Junior Minister Vince Ingham told the Senate in December that the early phases of the clean-up would be done by April 2014, with all work completed in five years.
The spokesman said a revised remediation plan would be developed with the remediation consultant, adding: It is not envisaged that this will affect the project schedule to completion.
Asked about the scale of the pollution, the spokesman said the consultant would be better able to comment on the severity.
He added: The contaminants on Morgans Point are mainly hydrocarbons and asbestos materials that can be dealt with safely and effectively.
Mr Christensen is correct to state that a small proportion of the site is affected; however, this is still a large area of land.
Remediation measures include bulk removal of hydrocarbons, capping of existing landfill areas, asbestos abatement and demolition.
In addition, an effective protective coastal defence barrier is required to prevent future wash out of landfill materials.
Many of these measures are not technical in nature and may be dealt with by local construction professionals. However, the volume of materials to be removed and areas to be dealt with are not small and consequently the costs are as reported.
Government has begun cleaning up polluted Morgans Point, to the relief of the developers planning to build a $2 billion tourist development there.
Craig Christensen, one of three Bermudian directors of Morgans Point Ltd, said the work, which began in April, was very helpful in terms of moving the luxury resort project forward.
And he told a press conference yesterday: We are looking to put the full remediation package out there for full tender in very short order.
Mr Christensen told The Royal Gazette he thought the Ministry of Public Works got it wrong when it quoted $38 million as the cost of the remediation during this years Budget debate.
In my view, it doesnt make a lot of sense, he said. I think that number is inflated. Ive had conversations with them before but they havent really spent the time and effort, in my view, to really look at this in a more practical sense.
I dont see it being near that number. Im not the expert but my best guess is [that it would cost] $20 to $25 [million].
We have had meetings with senior officials in Government, with a view to reducing some of the scope of work required without compromising the actual remediation needs.
Mr Christensen claimed Government made the pollution left by the American military on the peninsula in the 1990s sound worse than it was because they were trying to extract money from the US Government for the clean-up of Morgans Point.
And he said that hadnt helped Morgans Point Ltd when it came to finding funding for the luxury resort.
Probably 50 percent of all lenders will not lend on polluted land, he said. Its really been unfortunate that the Government went about promoting the fact that Morgans Point was heavily polluted and put that on their website and communicated that to the public.
Mr Christensen claimed recent tests showed the only significant pollution was on Government-owned land, which will be leased to the developers for use as a golf course.
There are only two areas, which represent an acre each, well to the north of any development, he said. The black oil plume of about one acre, which everyone talks about, which is Bassetts Cave. There is a one-acre jet fuel plume next to it, next to Bassetts Cave, and that represents about two acres out of 207 acres at Morgans Point.
Weve got to clean it to international standards, which is the right thing to do, but none of the stuff out there poses, to my knowledge, any health hazards.
He said his business partner Nelson Hunt had already done some cleaning, including the removal of three metal tanks from a building, which really sort of demonstrates what can be done in a fairly cost-effective way.
I dont see it being that difficult, other than Bassetts Cave, said Mr Christensen. The rest of it is more normal conditions and [will require] use of heavy equipment.
But he said it had been difficult to determine when building work could begin on the hotels as Government had been so vague on the clean-up details.
Junior Public Works Minister Vince Ingham told the Senate in March that remediation would start the following month and would take up to five years. He previously said the early phases would be done by April 2014.
We have had discussions with Government as to what is necessary to be cleaned up first to expedite the Morgans Point development, Mr Christensen told this newspaper.
We are starting to get some clarity with respect to time frames and commitment.
Government has repeatedly said in recent years it was investigating sources of funding for the clean-up. It told this newspaper last month that a revised remediation plan was to be developed (see sidebar).
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