P.O.BOX SS 5905


PH/FAX 393-7604





                                                                                                            January 26, 2000



VIA FACSIMILE-242-327-5806



Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham




Dear Prime Minister,


                  On behalf of the Clifton Park Committee, we are Writing to ask that the Bahamian government require Bechtel corporation and Chaffin/Light developers to complete an environmental assesment of its proposed 637 unit residential and marina resort at Clifton, before issuing any approvals for that project.

1            The Government Found Bechtel’s Ela to be Inadequate and Uuntrue

                  Although these U.S. based developers created a preliminary environmental assessment (the “Bechtel EIA”) completed in April 1998 the Bahamian government has declared the Bechtel EIA to be “inadequate” and deficient.  The government’s scientific and engineering consultants have predicted that Bechtel’s Clifton development, as currently configured, may have catastrophic impacts on the reef and beach ecosystems of western New Providence Island and on the communities that rely upon those ecosystems for recreation and subsistence, and that Bechtel’s development will damage or destroy irreplaceable and historic and cultural sites.

                   Following the release of Bechtel’s environmental impact assessment completed in April 1998, on the proposed Clifton Cay project, the Bahamian government Contracted with Miami based Law Engineering and Environmental Services to perform an independent review of the findings of the Bechtel EIA.  The purpose of that review, completed in April 1998, was to determine whether Bechtel’s EIA adequately addressed and mitigated the environmental impacts associated with the development project.  The Law Report found that the EIA did not adequately and truthfully address impacts to coastal, marine and cultural resource 

   “The EIA significantly lacks the detail necessary to accurately assess the proposed impacts of the Clifton Cay development.”

                       The government contracted scientist also charged that their independent field observations had found “numerous inconsistencies between the actual condition and the reported conditions” in Bechtel’s EIA.  The government consultants ridiculed Bechtel’s specific recommendations declaring that these “ cannot be supported by rigorous scientific data “and added that” many of the recommendations appear to be based upon anecdotal evidence” and that Bechtel’s conclusions “appear to be fundamentally incorrect”.

      2            The Clifton Cay Project May Cause Catastrophic Impacts to the Region’s Reefs and Beaches.

                  The Bahamian government report further predicted that the Clifton Cay project could impose dramatic and debilitating impacts upon the environment and upon Bahamian cultural treasures.  The most disturbing revelations in the government’s report are its conclusions that the Clifton Cay porject as proposed may cause damage or destruction to the regional reefs including the North Shore and South Shore reefs and the spectacular elkhorn corals of Goulding Cay.  Indeed, according to the government report, all of the world class reefs around western New Providence island could be sacrificed to this project.  These reefs draw scuba divers to our country from around the globe, support an $18 million annual scuba tourist industry and have been proposed for designation as a natural underwater park and marine sanctuary of the Bahamas National Trust.  The loss of international treasures like the Tongue of the Ocean reef system concerns all Bahamians.

                   Other potential impacts include the destruction of existing beaches in the region including “the possible complete loss of beach sands” in West Bay. These are only a few of the chilling impacts disclosed by the government report.


   3)             The Bechtel Project Will Shut the Gates on Clifton’s Beaches, Reefs and Open Space that Have

                       Historically Enriched the Lives Of the Bahamian People.

                  Another impact that will affect all Bahamians is the loss of public access to the last large piece of open space on New providence Island.  Although the Bahamas has one of the highest ratios of conservancy lands among the world’s nations, all of our country’s conservancies are on the outer islands where they serve as playgrounds for wealthy foreigners.  There are no conservancies on New Providence Island where 80% of Bahamians reside.  For many of us, the beaches of Clifton are not just an important recreational resource.  Clifton’s beaches and reef’s represent a giant financial asset to people who do not have large bank accounts or large air-conditioned homes to which they may retreat on sweltering days.  Public access is an ancient right guaranteed by the Magna Carta, by our

constitution and by Bahamian tradition.  The Clifton area is the largest piece of undeveloped open space and one of the longest stretches of publicly used shoreline land on New Providence Island.  As the government report points out, the south shore reefs are the only reefs of New Providence Island that are accessible from the shoreline.  The beaches and tidal shore lands of Clifton have traditionally served as a important gathering spot for Nassau residents to Fish, Swim, recreate and socialize.  The gated community proposed by Bechtel will effectively close this area to the Bahamian people.  The transfer of these lands to a private for-profit entity violates our fundamental right of access to the waters, shorelines, reefs, and fisheries.


4)                Concerns Bechtel’s EIA Also Ignored important Health and Safety   

                                   The government consultants also faulted the Bechtel report for completely ignoring “health and safety concerns” that will inevitably result as conflicts arise between swimmers and divers on one of New Providence’s most heavily utilized reefs and beaches and intense boat traffic that will occur after channels are blasted to accommodate Bechtel’s new deep channels, individual boat ships and marina.

 5)               The Bechtel Development Will Destroy invaluable Cultural Treasures.

                   Finally, Clifton is the site of a number of our nation’s most important cultural treasures including the largest Lucayan archaeological site ever discovered, the oldest building in the Bahamas and an important slave plantation and church.  The government and public should have the opportunity to review and comment on any development plan that might destroy or disrupt these sites.  According to the government’s study.  Bechtel has not adequated addressed its projects impacts to these national treasures.

  6)                     Conclusion: The Bechtel Report is inadequate and Untruthful.  The Government Should    Require Bechtel to Produce an Authentic  EIA.

                        The government’s scientific consultants concluded a“ the EIA lacks sufficient detail to properly evaluate the coastal/marine impacts and the proposed  mitigation of those impacts.  Accordingly, in its present form, the proposed development does not adequately protect those marine and shoreline natural resources.  Numerous issues including  socioeconomic, health, safety and welfare.  Public access and use were either not addressed at all or only briefly mentioned.  The report exhibits inconsistencies, lack detail and lack supporting  information. These limitations preclude evaluation of what level of development may be acceptable.”

                     On behalf of the Clifton park Committee, I am requesting that you require Bechtel to perform a thorough and true environmental impact assessment of the Clifton Cay proposal including science based examination of the costs and benefits of the current configuration on the existing community, safety, walfare and property values and on the regional ecosystem surrounding Clifton.

                    As your own consultants have found, the Bechtel  EIA is severely deficient in the most basic respects and is useless as a tool for assessing the true impacts of the project.  Therefore it would be imprudent for the government to allow Bechtel to proceed with this project without first requiring it to truthfully disclosed the project’s potentially catastrophic to the government and to the Bahamian people and to mitigate these costs wherever possible.

                    Clifton has existed for tens of thousands of years and has been utilized by the public for hundreds.  We should not rush into a deal that may cause irreparable harm to our nation and people without first taking a hard look before we leap.  A hasty deal may leave us with long-term cost that far exceed the short-term benefits of the current Bechtel project.  Bahamians do not want a transaction that will trade higher standards of living for a few foreign millionaires for lower quality of life for the Bahamian public.

  If we can be of help to you.  Please let us know how.


 Sam Duncombe