In August of 2013, SEV Consulting Group led by Stacey Moultrie was contracted by the Government of The Bahamas, through the BEST Commission and the Ministry of Environment and Housing to conduct an inventory on POPS (Persistent Organic Pollutants). The main objective of the project is for The Bahamas to fulfill its obligations under the Stockholm Convention.
The project is to be conducted in three phases on five islands, Grand Bahama, Andros, Abaco, Eleuthera and New Providence with SEV surveying Andros, Abaco and Eleuthera and the Department of Environmental Health Services along with the Pan-American Health Organization taking care of New Providence and Grand Bahama.
Firstly an inventory of all POPS, such as DTT, Aldrin, Chlordane, Dieldrin, Hexachlorobenzene and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) among others and herbicides as well as by-products of chemical industries, is to be taken.
Secondly, all the chemicals found are to be put in a database, in order for the Government to track what is coming into the country and whether it is being properly disposed of.
Thirdly, an implementation plan is to be developed.
Under the Stockholm Convention agreement, the Government of The Bahamas made the commitment to phase out certain chemicals and to reduce others as well as to find safer alternatives that will be recommended by SEV.
POPs are organic substances that once released into the environment remain intact for an exceptionally long period of time. They become widely distributed and bio-accumulate in fatty tissue of living organisms, including humans. They are toxic to humans and wildlife.
“The project objectives are to prepare the ground for implementation of the Convention requirements; to satisfy its reporting and fulfill other obligations stated in the Convention and to strengthen the national capacity to manage POPS and chemicals in general.”
A survey to determine which chemicals are entering the country is being presently undertaken. So far Mrs. Moultrie and her group have visited farmers and hardware stores on N. Andros, and on the main island of Abaco, asking farmers what chemicals they use, discussing with hardware stores what their inventory of chemicals is and visiting the dumps to see what is being discarded.
She also wants to interview key personnel of the major shipping companies to get an idea of what is coming into the country.
Once the survey is completed, the products found will be studied and analyzed to find out if they contain some of the hazardous chemicals mentioned on a list of twenty five POPs and their by-products.
The implementation plan will outline which chemicals should be either eliminated or their unintentional release reduced.
The Department of Environmental Health Services and the Pan-American Health Organization are taking a strategic approach and adopting a global plan of action to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle, so that by 2020 chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.
Locally, the National Implementation Plan (NIP) will consist of assessing the institutional capacity needs of establishing the economic and social implications of POPs; of achieving an assessment of laboratory, research and development capacity; of identifying the socioeconomic, public health and environmental issues; of putting forward action plans for priority POPs and of implementing targets, time-frames, implementation costs and indicators of success.
The SEV team is comprised of a chemist, Stefan Moss, a database specialist, Nekia Brice and with Stacey Moultrie as the team coordinator. The project coordinator for the BEST Commission is Gammell Deal.