DoE voiced port concerns

| 07/01/2011

(CNS): The potential impact on the East End water lens, the loss of marine and terrestrial environmental resources and future environmental dangers and hazards are just a few of the key concerns raised by officials from the Department of Environment regarding the proposed commercial seaport in the High Rock area of East End. DoE director Gina Ebanks-Petrie confirmed that the developer, Joseph Imparato, and his team have discussed his proposed project with them and that an ad hoc environmental impact assessment group was formed in partnership with the DoE and other relevant agencies to review the terms of reference for the EIA. Ebanks-Petrie said that while the group’s comments have been submitted, in the absence of a National Conservation Law what process both the approval of the ToRs and the actual EIA will follow is not clear.

The environment boss said that staff from the DoE, the National Roads Authority, planning and the Water Authority met with Imparato’s team and the EIA consultants to offer their comments on the key issues that the assessment must consider.

“It was agreed that the draft ToRs would be reviewed and commented on by the EIA group. This has been done and we are awaiting feedback from the consultants,” Ebanks-Petrie told CNS this week. “Of course, in the absence of any legislated EIA process and procedure, such as envisaged in the draft NCL, the process for approval of the Terms of Reference and the process that the actual EIA will follow are not clear at this stage.”

She explained that the primary concerns covered five main areas. Firstly, the issues relating to the potential impact of the excavation of the proposed inland basin on the East End water lens is a concern which has been raised by a number of the local residents in the area. It is also one of the issues worrying the two local MLA’s in East End and North Side. At a number of public meetings it has been suggested that this natural fresh water source could be contaminated by the excavation.

Ebanks-Petrie also noted the general loss of significant environmental resources, both marine and terrestrial, as a result of the excavation of the access channel and construction of the breakwater/groyne, as well as the excavation of the inland basin. She added that this included both direct impacts and indirect impacts from sedimentation.

The director further noted that the possible environmental impacts associated with the proposed uses of the facility once constructed also had to be considered. “These range from potential spillage of oils to impacts associated with the construction of new roads,” she noted.

The socio-economic issues surrounding the impacts of the project on existing livelihoods are also important, Petrie-Ebanks observed, including the impact on subsistence farming, as well as the local water sports industry, among others. She said the assessment had to consider and identify the socio-economic costs, including environmental costs and how any benefits of the project would be distributed.

She said in the final analysis it would be the environmental impact assessment that would reveal the real extent of the risk this project proposes to the area’s natural resources.

The area is home to a number of the Cayman Islands’ indigenous flora and fauna as well as a number of red listed and endangered species. The country’s national tree, the Silver Thatch palm and, the national flower, the banana orchid, both endangered, are found in the area.

In general, the response from the people in the eastern districts likely to be impacted by the project has been unsupportive. Both Arden McLean and Ezzard Miller have presided over public meetings where sentiment against the development ran high. Since then, the two politicians have launched a petition against the proposed port in their districts, which will be going nationwide over the next weeks, the MLAs have confirmed as they call on the people of Cayman to proclaim their opposition to the project.

Both men have accused the developer of using the port proposal as a cover for his intended purpose, which is to quarry and sell the fill on the land he owns in the area to make what is expected to be a significant profit.

Miller said that rather than offering a proper business plan, the “often controversial investor”, having bought large tracts of essentially useless land, has now decided he can make money by quarrying the rock and shipping it overseas. The North side MLA said, having seen the plans, he estimated there was as much as half a billion dollars worth of fill to be gained, given the depth of the basin the developer proposesto dig. “He is then going to donate that hole in the ground to government to turn into a port,” Miller added. “I don’t think that is the way we should be developing our infrastructure. Moreover, Grand Cayman is not that big of a land mass that we can afford to add a piece of it to Texas.”

Imparato held a press conference to promote the development and answer questions from the media. However, CNS was not invited and therefore was unable to pose any questions to the developer regarding the myriad environmental issues concerning his proposal. Although we have contacted the agency which organised the briefing asking why we were not asked to attend, we have yet to receive a response.

Go to petition

Go to CNS poll

Visit the developer’s website at

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Category: Headline News

About the Author ()

Comments (37)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. NJ2Cay says:

    As for the Water Lens, the WaterAuthority is charged with the protection of groundwater in the Cayman Islands. So I’m sure they are watching this closely and are not going to allow anything to put the East End Water Lens in jeopardy. They actually regulate Development with the Planning board, to insure the respect of the Water Supply. Check out their Site and article regarding the Water Lenses in the Cayman Islands.





    I have one question for all the people who are against this project, if the facts of the studies came back that this could be done with no risk to the Water Lens and the Water Authority and Planning Department agreed with the study. They had to keep the fill on the island, were forced to build protective seawalls that would actually be better then what’s there now and they had to hire Caymanians to do the work. 


    Would you then support it or would you still be against it.


    I myself would like to see it happen, but if the facts show that it would negatively affect the environment or not work to the benefit of Cayman and Caymanians I am completely against it. But I will wait for the facts to come out which I haven’t seen as of yet. All I have heard are a bunch of Hot Aired optioned with no documented factual basis. And I for one trust the facts not opinions.


  2. Natural Mystic says:

    Legalize the damn thing already and watch our problems float to the skies.

    Tourisim would shoot through the roof, Jobs and $$ for everyone, we get to keep our reefs and we would own the Caribbean market.

    I’m sure this will make a few of you cringe but hay LIQUOR is legal whats the difference? Think before you object as all of your concerns are all a present reality when considering liquor cons.

    CNS can you guys arrange a poll on this subject would be interesting to see how many people would be willing to go down this road?





    • Anonymous says:

      *scratching head*

      Are you reading the same article as the rest of us or is it you just been smoking too much already?

      Having said that, I don’t entirely disagree with your position – I just think it rather odd in the context of a port development debate!

  3. NJ2Cay says:

    This EE Port may be just what’s needed for the island, but I do believe that is must be done correctly. And he must not be allowed to export one cubic yard of fill off the island when it’s needed so much here, he should be forced to sell it locally and at discounted prices if possible so it can be used to do things like raise roads, level property for new homes and build new protective seawalls. The developement itself can actually bring a new life to the east end which we have to admit is needed to create new jobs, business oportunities and increase property values. We just need to make sure that Caymanians actually benefit from it, not try to stop it from happening. Let’s wait till the facts all come out before we start fighting amongst ourselves about something we really know nothing about, we are not Geologist, Scientists or Environmental Specialists and neither are the MLA’s so anything said uop to this pointis just opinion. The last thing we need is any kind of violence or civil disobedience as some have suggested, the only thing this will get you is a vacation on the the North Side if you know what I mean.

  4. NJ2Cay says:

    This is a very interesting Article about the high need for fill in Grand Cayman and the possibility of allowing Quarrying down to 50 Feet.



  5. Anonymous says:

    Bravo, Bravo, and well said Jonathan Joseph Thomas Adam.

    I do not see a Ghandi in our midst, but there must be civil disobedience to this project if that is what it is going to take to prevent it going forward. We must not let this project divide the country, but calmly and without and hint of violence, the majority opinion must prevail.

    This is not a political issue, regardless of who may try to make it one, so when the time comes I see no reason why Civil Servants should not stand shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the country in opposition to this madness.

    The people that we have elected to represent us somehow think they have been appointed to lord over us. This is not the case, so in ending I would like to quote from Ben Franklin on the signing of the Declaration of Independence "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately".

  6. Jonathan says:

    The impacts of said proposal are so overwhelmingly negative that only a complete and utter lack of common sense would allow one and/or all to accept what Mr. Emperato wants to do to East End. The voice of opposition against said proposed port goes far beyond the districts of East End and North Side. The value of the East End water lens (i.e. fresh, sweet water) is such that any endevour to damage, endanger or ultimatley destroy will and should be met with the utmost collectively undesireable example of civil disobedience this country has ever been witness to. Regardless of the possibility of this proposesd "project" being a complete red herring to divert attention from other avenues of greedy idiocy being perpretrated presently, if this present or any government allows possibley the most valuable natural asset/resource the Cayman Islands has (i.e. freshwater resevoir) to be placed into a state of dire vulnerability then the consequences of such actions will be ultimately destructive to those who seek to do this and those who will stand against it.

    There is no way in either hell or God’s green earth that there will not be physical opposition to this. The limit has been passed and the last straw is about to be placed on the camel’s back. This country has been saddled with an extremely poor, ludicrous, and unbelievabley lacking in any sense of character example of a "premier" who has said on national television that "many people will be calling foul" in the near future. 

    Not only is the present situation of leadership completeley unacceptable in this country, but also the manifestation of the outright prostitution of this country is also. The land Mr. Emperato owns is not worthless, those who cannot see it’s intrinsic value are the ones who are so. The largest and only viable remaining freshwater resevoir in the Cayman Islands left is not for those who would seek to destroy it for their own asinine purposes.

    This is a warning.

    This is a promise.


    Jonathan Joseph Thomas Adam 

    • anonymous says:

      Dear Jonathan Joseph Thomas Adam,

      First off, you should get the facts. The East End water lens is atleast a half a mile from the port excavation. Even if the excavation came right up to the lens it would not be the end of the world for this reason.

      The water lens is not a “bag of water” under the ground. The lens is water trapped in soil and in holes underground. The perfect analogy is it is like pouring water into a sponge. The water is suspended in the sponge. In some areas, at the edges you can see some water drip out as occurs in several areas. Should one cut the sponge, yes that water in the cut area is lost but the sponge retains the remaining water. Should you bring some salt water up to the edge of the sponge, that area of the sponge will become salty but the main sponge willretain it water. ( This is the example that the Water Authority told me so I am not making it up)

      So if the cut is not even in the sponge, this concept that the the east end water lens will be lost is nonsense. Mr. Miller and McLean has scared alot of people with this and the misguided hurricane theory, that we have people like you threatening violence, (‘physical opposition” as you call it). It is interesting that no one seems to object to the continued true destruction of our finest agricultural lands in Lower Valley and its water lens for housing there (in an area that has been farmed since 1750) but now the end of the world will come if a new seaport comes to Half Moon Bay.

      I suggest before you get all excited Mr.Jonathan Joseph Thomas Adam, that you get the facts first.

      • Anonymous says:

        1. It appears that DoE was fully briefed on the plans and itself has concerns regarding contamination of the water lens. I do not see how you can suggest that there is no cause for concern.

        2.  As I understand it a fresh water lens is not like a sponge. Instead it is an underground pool of freshwater that takes the shape of a lens. The nearer the coast the higher the risk of contamination. The quarry/port would bring the coast much nearer to the fresh water lens.  

        • NJ2Cay says:

          This should help end the debate of what a FreshWater Lens is.

          Definition and meaning of freshwater lens from the Oceangraphy Dictionary. 





          Freshwater lens – an underground pool of freshwater that takes the shape of a lens. Lenses are critical sources of fresh water on many islands. The freshwater lens is suspended by seawater. For example, when rain falls on a limestone island, it quickly sinks into the porous calcareous rock, picking up a mineral content from the organic material, soil and rock that it passes through. This water accumulates within the rock, continuing itÕs downward path. Eventually, it meets the layer of salt water that permeates limestone platforms atSea Level. Because fresh water is less dense than salt water, the lens of fresh water will float on top of the saline groundwater. In many areas, this lens is very thin. If the sea level increases and/or if the lens becomes depleted because of excess withdrawals, seawater can intrude and make the water unsuitable for many uses. The size of the lens is directly related to the size of the island. Larger islands have lenses that are less vunerable to tidal mixing and excessive


    • Durrrr says:

      An eloquent, passioned post, as always, Jon. But I for one need a few real facts before I can support your stance:


      1.  Where is the proof that the proposed port will (or even may) damage the lens?

      2.  How many people / farms actually use or rely on the water from that lens?


      Until there is proof that there is at least a real risk that the port will damage the lens, and until we know the consequences of such damage, I find it hard to oppose the proposed port, particularly in the current economic climate.


      If there is no damage to the lens, or if the farmers who are affected can be adequately compensated (by providing them with desalination equipment to install on their wells, perhaps), then the port should go ahead in my opinion.

      • Anonymous says:

        Obviously such proof would requirea detailed, comprehensive, **independent** Environmental Impact Study which it is clear we are not going to get. The risk of harm to the water lens is obvious. The nearer you bring the coast to the water lens the greater the risk. It is a matter for the public to be satisfied to the contrary.

        Re the farmers, you reflect very parochial thinking and are missing the big picture.  It is not just about the farmers. The water lens is a tremendous resource for this Island as whole. Obviously you think the value can be measured in some immediate dollars and cents to a few farmers. This is Cayman’s problem: the greed of a few overrides the long term best interests of the many. 

        But of course there are many other objections, e.g. that this will incur tens of millions of dollars in costs for govt. as it would be required to build an extension of the bypass from Hirst Road (Newlands) to East End, and build new public buildings in EE. It will add to wear and tear on those roads and therefore the cost of maintainance. It will add considerably to the cost of imports as everything will be required to be trucked into George Town. It will effectively destroy EE’s tourism which depends in large part on scuba diving. Never mind the potential catastrophic damage from major hurricanes. 

        You also do not seem to be aware of the fact that Mr. Imparato has not actually committed to build this port. He has merely prepared some impressive looking graphics to excite people’s imaginations and gain approval for his quarry. He has not given and is not prepared to give a performance bond for the building of the port. He has expressly stated that he cannot go it alone without other investors.  Can you tell me what will happen if he is given permission to quarry and leaves a gigantic hole in EE and no port is actually developed?      


  7. concerned says:

    We Caymanians like to have our cake and eat it too.  Far too much fuss is being made over this – build the thing and we prosper.  The more we argue about it the less gets done!!!  Let’s get on with it for heaven’s sake.

    • Jonathan says:

      I do not know if you are a Caymanian, for all I know you could be a martian. Wherever you are from you are certainly and unequivocabley a ninkompoop. Look it up genius, then respond and give us your name, wuss. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Sorry, "Build the thing" you relally meant to say "Dig the thing" and the "Thing" is the East End Mega Quarry!

      The only "we" that will posper by the digging of the East End Mega Quarry are Imperato business associates, Imperato associated politicians and Imperato family members.

      Caymanians must be the biggest fools on earth, soon to be underwater fools.

      God gave us reefs – they protect us from the Cat 5 storm waves.

      God gave us bluffs – they protect us from the Cat 5 storm waves.

      Caymanians are willing to let Imperato dig them down and bring the ocean 60 ft. deep, 600 ft. wide, 3,000 ft. inland – destroying that which God gave us to protect us from the Cat 5 storm waves.

      Caymanians stop selling your soul for fake promises – remember only fools take promises as comfort.


    • BORN FREE says:

      It does not matter who voices opposition to this project it is obvious that it is going ahead, at leastuntil the fill is removed for personal gain (the developer has hinted quite often that it is a foregone conclusion, even if he has said so by "slip of the tongue"). As to the completition of the project, well that is anyones guess even though I personally doubt that we will ever see it completed. The forces behind this project are too powerful despite the overwhelming public opposition to it.
      We must ask WHY does a developer continue with such an unpopular & destructive project in the face of such opposition, especially if you consider that he will never see a financial gain from it in his life time, unless of course he is only thinking about the hundreds of millions that can be made from the fill.
      It would also be interesting to see who NOW owns all the surrounding land of this proposed development. Check it out Cayman.
      I believe the environmental experts including DoE whosay that the cons far outweigh the pros, & that this massive development will be harmful to our environment, but we can complain "till the cows come home" but I am fearful that this is already a "done deal"!!! I also wonder how this will benefit Caymanians (maybe like how the Ritz has helped Caymanian workers? In other words NOT AT ALL)!
      It is also going to be an eye sore & disaster when all we are left with is a massive hole on the beautiful East End coast line after the fill has been removed & the project goes no further. Think about it people!

  8. Anonymous says:

    AND WHEREAS the Government is currently negotiating with DECCO to build a Passenger Liner port facility in George Town which will include the upgrade of the current Cargo Facility and Mega Yacht berthing;

    Ezzard & Arden I support your stance against the EE Port, however the above caption within the petition has no relevance. Two seperate projects! Please remove the above clause from the petition so we can continue to build signatures.

  9. nauticalone says:

    Thank you CNS, DoE and both MLA’s of North Side and East End.

    Also thanks to the many others who protest and otherwise ensure that this project does NOT happen.

    The adverse affects of digging this huge quarry (err….Port) are not in the best interests of Cayman and it’s people.

    It amounts to financial gain for a few already rich people at the long term pain/expense of the many.



    • Anonymous says:

      "The adverse affects of digging this huge quarry (err….Port)…"

      You my friend are one of only a few people who have not been fooled my Mr. Imperato and Atwater. It is indeed a "huge quarry", in fact it is MEGGA QUARRY – and that is the only real reason why Mr. Imperato is doing this project.

       This is not the port that Mr. Imperato and Atwater is trying to make it out to be, that is only to divert the attention from the real negative issues of this MEGGA QUARRY project.

      People this is a MEGGA QUARRY, get that yet?

  10. Anonymous says:

    The current government won’t listen to the DOE If it has to with Development

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank God they do not listen!,….DOE objects to ALL development. It is a good thing that 80% of Cayman’s revenue comes from Development or we would not be able to pay Ms. Petrie, Ms Kirkconnell and Ms. Hurstone’s salaries. Hmmm..thought of the day just flashed by….how would they get paid if we had no development?

  11. McCarron McLaughlin says:

    Hi Fellow Caymanians,

    Can anyone remember Ivan and the destruction caused especially by the high wave action?

    Every 7th wave went right over the Moonbay/Highrock ridge, there were hundred pound boulders in the road and the sea emptied on land on the other side of the road, if we take this important ridge away as Joe Imparato is suggesting, EVERY single wave will end up in Northside and Bodden Town causing and ecological disaster that none of us are ready to face.

    Caymanians please ask yourself if we are willing to risk irreparable damage just because an "old political bully" and his friend sees a great opportunity to further rape our country of her natural wealth.

    This is a no-brainer, please Mckeeva and Joe leave East End the way it is and stop this FXXXXXG madness.


    • Anonymous says:

      What is wrong with Mac, can he not foresee and understand how his actions negatively affect the Cayman Islands.

    • Caymanians for logic says:

      1. Not all hurricane waves come from the South. North Side has to worry about those waves that come from the north. They will easily mount the 8 foot coastal ridge currently there. Remember 1989? The fifteen foot wave that hit Apollo 11 did not come from high rock.

      2. Even those waves that come from the south, the port entrance will be protected by a tall, probably 30 high seawall, that is what they do everywhere else in the world. If waves go over that, they will go over the existing 25 foot ridge that is there now. Plain and simple. Also waves rarely come from the SW which is why the entrance is pointed in that direction, obviously.

      3. Bodden Town, 6 miles away, does not need to worry about any EE Port. Just look back 5 years and see what IVAN did to it. EE port will have no effect. Back of Gun Square and Savannah gully will flood every time anyway.

      4. As for North Side getting washed away… impossible. Just because an area is to the West or North of East End does not mean it is DOWNHILL. Realize that is local Caymanian lingo ( as in “going DOWN to Bodden Town”) but physically not fact.

      I suggest that better use of the two MLA’s time would be to find jobs for their constituents. Mr Miller does some of this but the EE MLA does not. I see plenty of need in his district other than him spreading illogical concepts and fear. This week it was agriculture. Had to laugh. Records show hurricanes destroy our crops, every single time they blow them down and flood them. So letting Austin think this is some kinda hurricane defense only makes Austin look silly. Shame on you Arden.

      Lets look at the real issues of this Port and stop posting silly and rehashed nonsense that Arden has said. Get a real debate going.

      • McCarron McLaughlin says:

        I wish Caymanians like you "Caymanians for logic" would man up and reveal your identity so we can have real debate. Stop hiding behind your mask and reveal yourself since you are so sure about this project.

        You remember when the western end of Grand Cayman  was submerged during Ivan from West Bay straight to Prospect – the same will happen once the flood gates are open by the crazy venture.

        I will save my oxygen now as you are not worth one grain of rice.


      • Anonymous says:

        Do you remember what Ivan did to East End with everything in its God made state?????   Alter nature and God bless you if another "Ivan" heads our way!!!!!!  Hope Imparto comes to get you in a boat…. oh wait!!! he left on the first plane out of here………

  12. Anonymous says:

    It is plain wrong that in 2011 Cayman still has no conservation laws to effectively manage  it’s most precious resource, the very land itself. And it would be understandable if  those dedicated and highly professional individuals who work at the DOE, were to feel disheartened, knowing their input might be swept aside, and there is nothing they could do about it.

    I know it has been said 1,000 times already, but this island needs a conservation law. Cynical observers might be forgiven for thinking that these major projects coming up, the Shetty Hospital, the East End Quarry and the proposed  finger piers in George Town, are precisely why the proposed law was put on hold.

  13. NJ2Cay says:

    Is Cayman Fill worth more than fill from the US ? I’m just curious as to why someone in Texas would want to buy fill from the Cayman Islands in lieu of locally, where it would likely be cheaper. It seems that if he wanted to quarry the fill he’d make more money selling it locally.

    On any account I don’t believe for a moment that this will ever happen, because when folks don’t want something they will usually find a way to keep it from happening. And it seems that at this point the only one that’s for it tii Imparato himself.

    • Anonymous says:

      The majority of Cayman is made up of coral or limestone. What we commonly call "marl" and have been using for years as fill is in fact soft calcium carbonate.

      Marl is of no value as fill in Texas, or anywhere else in the US, but it is in high demand as a food additive in cattle feed to boost calcium in cow’s milk.

      Now you are able to fill in the rest of the blanks.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Miller has states the following "having bought large tracts of essentially useless land…".

    Suddenly the land is not so useless and there is a big uproar.

    I would bet the farm that if Mr. Miller owned some of the land, his tune would be opposite.

    At times Mr. Millers comments are so hypocritical on all fronts that they are actually half amusing…..maybe he could open a comedy club and be the headliner.

    Why is it when someonehas vision that everyone else tries to take vision away…..jealousy perhaps.

    Look at Las Vegas in the desert….visionary.

    Or closer to home look at Camana Bay….visionary.

    • Anonymous says:

      Mr.Anonymous 12.40, my understanding of a visionary is ‘one who sees things others cannot see’. In this case most of us must be visionaries, because we all see a monstrous crater being handed over to a future Government, needed about as much as a dental cavity.

      Unfortunately, Mr Miller’s dictatorial and confrontational style of politics has alienated many of us over the years, but this has no bearing on the correctness of his opposition  to the quarry, masquerading as a port.

    • Anonymous says:

      I suggest you read this letter to the editor of the Caymanian Compass published this past Tuesday:–A-visit-to-East-End/

      East End is not a barren wastland as so many seem to think. East End is a haven with natural resources that and charm of value. East End land owners – not just people who own land in East End, but the sons and daughters, East Enders – understand the wealth of their land, their grounds and this is just a glimpse at the reasons why they do not want a port in East End.

      • anonymous says:

        I own family land in East End and trust me most of it is MAIDEN PLUM and CLIFF ROCK. It is worth next to nothing now $5,000 per acre at best. Compare that with land downtown at $ 10,000,000 per acre or seven mile beach at $50,000,000 per acre…Even land in Bodden Town is $80-100,000 per acre.

        yes we East Enders know the WEALTH of our lands! We wish it HAD some!

        • Anonymous says:

          You are an example of the greed that is destroying this country.

        • Anonymous says:

          I, too, am an East Ender who owns land in that area. I keep a little ground up there. Emparato better think again if he thinks he’s going to get my land.

          The majority of East Enders do not want that port up there. People like you are in the very small minority. That was very evident from the meeting Arden held up at the civic centre. The rest of us East Enders know the real value of our land and we will fight to keep it. 

          • durrrr says:

            what the hell are you talking about? who said anything about buying people’s land? he already owns the proposed site.

            • Anonymous says:

              Tells you how much you know – Imparato owns the majority of the land for the project, but not all of it. His port plans actually took in some peoples homes and their land…I saw that with my own eyes on his website. Arden even said so on Rooster last week Wednesday and confirmed on air that it had been changed after people who own property there were making it known that theirs was unknowingly included in his development plans.