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Remember some weeks ago when I told you about sitting on the rocks at Argyle. Well I was there surveying the ground pollution deposited from the tarmac plant and the machine and plant yard, workshop and plant and machinery graveyard. But I was really there because the previous day I had received a phone call telling me the Yambu was flowing across the runway because the corrugated tunnels could not cope with the volume of water.
I walked from the main Windward Highway via the new Rawacou road at Stubbs Village curling its way around the approach end of the Argyle Airport runway and all the way over the hill dropping down and past Rawacou Park with its fence rusted and rotten and the whole place which is a listed tourist venue looking sad and neglected.
The rain was horrendous and more so the wind which came in monumental blasts and gusts. I was wearing bright yellow oilskins including a Sou’wester oilskin hat and tough waterproof walking boots. Despite the wind and rain I thought I was going to die of heat in this outfit.
I walked over the hill and made the decent towards the Cuban canteen whereby I followed the road to the right which was now what is left of the old Argyle Road, past the old Thomas house on the right, packed with Cubans and some parked tanker truck which one of them obviously drives. Opposite on the left on higher ground is the plant and machinery graveyard, packed with equipment that had broken down then robbed for parts and abandoned as scrap. Millions of dollars worth of machinery left to rot and fall apart. I was thinking about that as I left the road and climbed the side of the hill to have a better look. What I found was quite amazing, in Cuba they have to make a machine last forever.
But not in Saint Vincent here I found the most sorry state of all kinds of high end expensive equipment reduced to scrap. The ground was sodden in oil which had leaked and also been drained from the equipment straight onto the ground. There were several 50 gallon oil drums which had contained dirty oil laying on sides where they were tipped straight over the side of the bluff. If a contractor did this in any other country in the world they would be prosecuted and even imprisoned it’s so bad. The only thing worse that I have seen is in Nigeria where Shell has destroyed mile upon mile of the Niger Delta a sticky mess of leaked oil. Shell first started pumping oil there in 1958, and now runs around 50 oil fields and a 5,000 km pipeline network. And every year, more oil from its broken pipelines and wells seeps into the delta’s water and soil. They are working night and day to try and cure the problem but it is an impossible task. What I saw at Argyle reminded me of that, and I was in both places.
Some months ago I was shown several lobsters caught along the Argyle coast where the breast shields of those lobsters are covered in black tar. But today I cried when I found three black headed seagulls who had died soaked in oil and feet and wings stuck up with tar. I am calling on the World authorities and the UN to come and look at this site, the pollution and the obvious criminal neglect of protection of the wild life, land, sea and air.
All the time my mind was racing and I thought of Leon Samuel aka Bigga Bigs. How they made up a story about gross oil pollution to put him out of business. I went at the time and inspected his site at Rabbaca and found nothing. Yet here is the very government that used spite, malice and downright lies against Bigs, now via one of their many companies creating the worst pollution found anywhere in the Caribbean, perhaps even in the southern hemisphere. I suppose we could blame the Cubans because it is of their doing. They are operating the tarmac plant where some of the pollution is coming from. But they are not in overall control. Vincentians are in control through the Airport Development Company CEO what kind of PhD he has I do not know but it has proved of little use in this matter. It’s quite amazing to see how many people in SVG have PhD’s but still have no common sense. I even put Prime Minister Gonsalves in this category as well.
There were quite a few cattle feeding on what grass that they can find amongst the contamination. I did not get close enough see if they had any oil or tar contamination on their hooves or hides. The roadside ditch or drain was full of raw sewage when I was here some weeks ago. Flowing down from the Cuban canteen and across the road from the Cuban living quarters. The cattle when I was last here were walking and grazing in among raw sewage. But because the rain had been so prominent for the few preceding days the sewage had been replaced by fast running water draining from everywhere. One real sign of severe contamination was the dead seabirds which I found covered in tar, bitumen or oil substances.
I walked on until I came to the area approaching the bridge. Water was flowing from the airport through drainage tunnels and meeting the Yambu river close to the sea. Water was way over the three heavy steel sheets that they are using to span the river. It was so dangerous I called my driver and he drove the road that I had walked until he found me.
I have also been keeping watch on the steel drainage tunnels and the Yambou tunnel and can report they also are starting to rust inside. I can also report that the coating that was contracted for to protect the galvanized steel tunnels outside was not carried out and concrete was poured straight on top of it which will cause severe corrosion through chemical reaction. The whole thing is now buried under soil fill so the corrosion cannot be monitored.
Forward, we turned the car around and went back to Stubbs and then turned towards Peruvian Vale where the German Canadian and his Vincentian wife live. On the way there were great chunks of earth spread across the main road that had broke away loosened by the rain from the high banks that were created when the new Argyle bypass was constructed. It was right by the man’s house where the Northern end of the new Argyle Rawacou road begins. So we left the highway and took the new perimeter road at the Eastern end of the runway where my driver parked on the left on a flat parking area. I took off again on foot the sea waves were so big they were breaking over the rock coastal protection that they have installed and drenched me. Thank goodness I still had my oilskins on, but the force of the wave almost swept me off my feet. I kept close to the new green fence and was surprised at several points to find the sea blast had almost rotted 10% into the metal fabrication. I thought these fences were special at airports, heavy galvanize and then hot dipped plastic or lead based paint. What I was seeing looked more like the fences are made of mild steel with no galvanize and a sprayed paint of some kind to color them up a nice green. I am in no doubt after what I saw the life of the fence in the areas of extreme sea blast will be more than two to four years.
“Heavy duty sea-blast resistant security fencing should have 40 microns of dipped hot galvanize applied and then an application of UV resistant paint applied or better still be dipped in UV proof hot vinyl as the finisher.
Although cost of the vinyl-clad fencing will be considerably more (20 per cent) than the galvanized only painted fence, the extra cost of the vinyl-cladding appears economically well justified because of its outstanding corrosion resistance, longer service life, and other benefits provided by the vinyl coating.
I do not believe for one moment that this fencing was ever galvanized and for it to rust so soon is actual evidence of its poor quality.
I am told but have not seen for myself that the metal work inside and outside of the new arrival terminal has also started to rust and rot. All buildings close to the sea where there are high winds experience fast rusting of metal and this is attributed to what is commonly called sea blast. This sea blast is actually the salt from the ocean being carried inland by the wind. We know that sea blast at Argyle is a very serious problem. Facing into the Atlantic huge waves that produce spray are picked up by the wind and deposited with a blast of sand and salt.
Many metals such as aluminum and iron naturally have a microscopic layer on their surface to protect from corrosion. For aluminum, this layer is called aluminum oxide, while for iron, the layer is iron oxide. In each case, this layer acts to prevent corrosion from occurring.
However, salt (sodium chloride), or actually the chloride part of salt, changes the ability of the oxide layer to protect the metal. Chloride always breaks down this layer causing pockmarks to form which is known as pitting, and once this occurs, then the rusting of the metal begins. That is why a marine grade of stainless steel [not on the fences] should have been used throughout the project. Even stainless steel of a lesser quality will eventual get a rusty tarnish.
Lets continue, I had to leave the road and follow the fence to see the area where I was told the Yambou river had broke free. Great swaths of soil either side of the runway under which the river is tunneled was washed away, gone. I feel confident in saying the water must of undermined the runway although from my side of the fence it looked OK. I walked on and could see the water height marks on the corrugated tunnels; of course the river had quieted down from the previous days. But what my eye caught was the rust appearing on the galvanized tunnel walls. Let’s hope that the tunnel lasts longer than the fence or we will be well in the doo doo.
Remember when I wrote this in another article:
“The Cuban engineer that retired and then came back after supposedly falling out with Gonsalves over the containment of the Yambou River”.
I went back to look the following week and they were tipping soil into the areas taken away by the Yambou.
Now if we look at the operational situation. The runway is not up to operational standard because it is built on several swamp areas and several live water springs. The Cuban engineer refused to sign off on the airport and after having arguments with the CEO and the Prime Minister he left the island. The man predicted that the tunneled Yambou was not the way to send the water under the runway, he was overruled. He did not agree with filling the swamps and covering up live water springs with soil fill, it was against his professional advice and counter to his original instructions.
They have been running around like headless chickens to find an engineer that will sign off on the airport. They have tried a Trinidadian, an American and now simply no one will put their name to it.
I am also informed that the runway below the mettaling and base stone layer is not compacted to the required 100%, only to about 65% in most places and is built over filled areas of swamp and live water springs. The grassed areas, the taxi ways and the aircraft parking apron are required to be compacted to 92% and have only achieved about 45% compaction. We have known all along that compaction was a problem but they failed to undertake the remedial work required after the qualified engineers brought this to the attention of AIADC.
Remember when I wrote this:
“The Cuban engineer that retired and then came back after supposedly falling out with Gonsalves over the containment of the Yambou River. Well he is the person that is recorded as the person who has to sign off on the certification of the airport being fit for use. He has refused and, despite arguments and carrots, he has left the state with his new Vincentian citizenship and passport. Point blank refusing because he claims the runway is unfit and dangerous for heavy aircraft to use”.
“The runway has been dug up already three times and a 100 meters of it is suspect due to being built on filled ground that will not compact due to being laid on swamp and water springs”.
There is a test that is required to evidence the contested compaction problem and the location of water springs and swamp. It’s called ground radar it will show everything up to 100’ below the surface. In particular it may warn of a sink hole developing.
Some may think the airport is undoubtedly blighted by the curse of the Christian Blood Remember when Gonsalves was courting Iran for help in funding the airport. How I wrote at that time how the Iranians were treating the Christians.
“Christians in Iran are persecuted to the endth degree. They are refused employment, their homes destroyed, imprisoned, raped, stoned, murdered, executed by the state, WHY? Because they refuse to denounce Christianity.”
Our ill conceived best went at different times to Iran to scrounge from them, Senator Julian Francis, Sir Louis Straker PM Ralph E. Gonsalves. Despite the Christian Worlds protests about what the Iranians were doing to Christians our Vincentian leaders went and negotiated scrounge money from them for the airport.
Apparently the Iranians promised us US$7 million, where did that go and how was it accounted for?
In return SVG undertook to vote in favor of or abstain whichever best favored the Iranians at the United Nations when members wanted to sanction them.
So that is why at the time with full explanation I labeled Argyle International Airport the Christian Blood Airport. At the time when I wrote that I said the airport will be cursed forever. I must say ever since there has been evidence of the airport being cursed.
To start with the airport should never have been funded and constructed in the way that it was. Remember how we were lied to and told the airport was to be paid for by a collection of countries described as the coalition of the willing. Then we were told it was to be paid for by money from the government and by selling lands in Bequia. Never at any time were we told that we would be taking hundreds of millions in loans, never ever were we told that. We were told by Julian Francis a member of the family dynasty that when the airport was completed there would be no debt left for the taxpayer. That was again a dastardly lie because we are now so far in debt our great grandchildren will still be paying for it in 80 years time.
I firmly believe that the building of the airport was a copycat project on the political whim of one man and one man only. If you remember Ralph Gonsalves told the nation that he is here to finish the work of Maurice Bishop.
Building an airport is one of the copycat projects that Gonsalves undertook to emulate Bishop in Grenada. Then like Bishop using Cubans to build it. The project was a three year project that has taken ten years to complete. Why? According to my conversation with the Cuban in Nicaragua because all the wrong earth moving machinery was acquired, initially it is said by the Venezuelans. Well there was a delivery of equipment which it is claimed but unsubstantiated it was paid for by the Venezuelans. I say unsubstantiated because much of the records have been kept secret and outside the scope of the state auditor. We know that Gonsalves has lied about everything airport for years now. He even lied about the Venezuelans paying the wages of the Cubans working here.
This is also something I also wrote in the letter referred to above.
“The Argyle International was a three year project that has taken somewhere approaching ten years. The Cubans have been blamed for purposely taking so long so as they could squeeze more revenue from the SVG government. But according to my new friend the airport could have been easily finished in four years if the proper machinery was purchased from day one. It was this failure by the airport management to understand even the basics of what they were doing that was the root cause of the problem. But even more basic than that was the fact that the airport was being built for political reasons by one man with a Marxist ideology who wanted to prove not just to the people of SVG but to all those other revolutionary Marxist leaders in the ALBA club that he Dr It was a true revolutionary, that was so important to him, which also helped to push the airport into a ten year project and treble the cost of it.
The whole project has been built on lies from day one until this day in May that I write this letter, I am sure it will continue to be based on lies.”
In fact I just reread that letter [I recommend you do the same] and was amazed how things have continued how I predicted.
The airport was started with no recent studies at the time, based on old studies. It was started without proper consultation with the local land owners of the land to be taken from them [61 of them who are believed NDP still have not been paid for their land ten years later]. If they had consulted they would have learned of the swamps and springs that have supplied that wonderful farmland land with an abundance of water for generations during droughts. The same swamps and springs that they decided against professional advice to fill and build the runway over. The airport was started without any feasibility studies and no master plan. The airport was started without any proper funding in place. In fact the airport was started based on lies and continued for ten years based on further lies. Yes the airport was started for all the wrong reasons but basically worse than that on the political whim and ideology of one man. A kind of guarantee of re-election which so far he has successfully pumped to the inst degree.
c/c to IATA, IAPA, FAA, CAA, all Caribbean Embassies, UK & US Embassies, EU Mission and LIAT.
For your further information the latest that I am informed of by what may be a top reliable classified source, yet I find it difficult to believe, is that there are two new airlines to be using Argyle from December 1 2016, Kelair a new Vincentian firm whose directorship will consist of a local foreign born business man and two poached foreign pilots from another local firm, and the other is said to be American Airlines [AA]. So I have sent AA a copy of this letter. I am also told by a different less reliable source that the aim is to have LIAT relocate their operation at Argyle International Airport whilst stuffing Antigua and Barbuda at the same time.
Sorry this is so long this time, there is so much to report, this is but a glimpse.