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Horseshoe Bay broken glass alert

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Beach danger: Broken glass found on Horsehoe Bay Beach. Photo courtesy of Mandy Shailer

Members of the public have been injured by broken glass left strewn across Bermuda’s most popular beach, Horseshoe Bay, over the Cup Match holiday weekend.

The Bermuda Volleyball Association contacted this newspaper to highlight large amounts of glass — everything from tiny shards to half-smashed bottles and full bottles buried in the sand — that their members found littered on the beach resulting in two of them being injured.

One of the injured, Adam Birch, said he had since heard of further reports of people getting cut in the days after Cup Match.

The Green Cooperative Bermuda, made up of BEST, Greenrock, Keep Bermuda Beautiful, Government’s Waste Management, XL Caitlin End-to-End and Chewstick, has questioned whether the Bermuda Government should consider banning glass from the island’s beaches altogether after “countless appeals” to improve health and safety following large-scale public events.

The Bermuda Tourism Authority’s website describes Horseshoe Bay Beach as “Bermuda’s premier beach”, saying it offers “literally everything you need to make your beach outing fun, exciting and safe”.

While members of the public are encouraged and expected to clean up after themselves, the Parks Department is ultimately responsible for cleaning the public beaches.

Bermuda Volleyball Association president Sophia Sontag told The Royal Gazette: “Our members have been finding lots of broken glass on the beach — it is quite bad.

“There have been a few players this week that have been cut.

“I went on Saturday to play — we were there for about two and a half hours but we only got to play two games because we were going around picking up broken glass and that was just on the 16m by 8m court we were playing on.

“When we first got there we walked around and picked up as much as we could, then in the middle of play we were still bringing up more.

“It was frustrating and very time-consuming and we certainly didn’t get to enjoy our day as much as we had wanted to.

“Every single court has been littered with it — it is not just small bits there are large pieces. I don’t understand why people are breaking bottles like that that we have these tiny shards.

“Ultimately we want a solution to it. The grater on Saturday mornings that cleans the beach on the weekends — I don’t know if it does anything to clean the beach or just rakes it. It’s not easy to try and ban glass, but at least we can discourage the public from bringing it on to the beach.”

Mr Birch, a BVA member, went to play volleyball this Tuesday and despite cleaning the court before the game he was cut when diving for the ball.

He told The Royal Gazette: “On Tuesday we start at 6.15pm but we spent over half an hour sifting through the sand getting chunks of glass off the court. It was even worse for the Monday crowd.

“I dove for a ball, I didn’t realise but someone said there was blood on my shorts — it was just a small nick but there was blood all over my shorts. We were talking about not playing any more — it’s the same every year at this time but this year was particularly bad. We were waiting for someone to get seriously injured — we heard that four or five got cut on the beach on Tuesday.”

The Green Cooperative Bermuda called on the Government to ensure the glass was cleared up immediately and even suggested the beach be closed until it is deemed safe.

A spokeswoman told us: “Litter on public beaches following public holiday celebrations is not a new problem in Bermuda. For years both the Bermuda Government and various non-profit environmental groups have appealed to the public for more responsible management of their trash. Despite these countless appeals, the problem persists and now poses a serious health and safety risk to all beachgoers ...

“It leaves us wondering what more can be done. Have we reached the point where we need to ban glass from Bermuda’s beaches as has been done elsewhere? Surely we have as much pride and resolve as they do. If holiday beachgoers are not willing to respect our beaches and clear up after themselves, then perhaps that is exactly what we need to do. Perhaps the beach should be closed to the public until the broken glass has been removed.

“As Bermuda’s number one beach for visitors, keeping it safe and clean is certainly in the best interest of our Bermuda Tourism Authority. As the managers of this public beach it is also in the Parks Departments interest to resolve this issue. Most importantly, as a favourite spot for us to come together and celebrate everything that make us Bermudian, it is in our collective best interest to protect and respect all of our beaches.”

In May, the BTA and the Ministry of Public Works produced a “Beach Vision” for the island, charting the direction for development with a focus on five public beaches including Horseshoe Bay.

A BTA spokeswoman told us: “The extensive collaboration undertaken by the BTA, in conjunction with numerous government, private and public sector stakeholders, resulted in a vision for Bermuda’s beaches that has been positively received by the public at large.

“The vision states: ‘The Bermuda pink sand beach experience must be iconic, memorable for its natural beauty complemented by cleanliness and casual amenities that are culturally authentic — true to the island’s attitude of unpretentious relaxation and warm hospitality.’

“We believe the entire community has a role to play in realising this vision through the safeguarding and maintenance of our island’s beaches, both for our own use and for the use of our visitors.”

At press time last night, the Department of Parks had not responded to questions posed by The Royal Gazette.

Safety risk: Broken glass found on Horsehoe Bay Beach
Beachgoers warned: Broken glass found on Horsehoe Bay Beach.