Minister of State for Grand Bahama, Senator Kwasi Thompson says that the Government of The Bahamas is extremely concerned that the beaches in Grand Bahama are safe not only for residents, but for visitors coming to the island.
“It is really a top priority for the Office of the Prime Minister, the ministry of environment, the ministry of health and for the entire government to make sure that our beaches remain safe,” added the Minister. “Tourism is our number one industry, so we do not take these incidents lightly. But the government is always going to ensure that resources are safe.”
The minister’s remarks came during a press conference to dispel claims that had been asserted two weeks ago in a media release, which suggested that there were some abnormalities and issues with respect to the waters at Taino Beach.
The assertion came from Waterkeepers Bahamas, who had expressed concern about the water surrounding areas of Taino Beach in a post to SwimGuide.org, an international online organization.
Reacting quickly to the report, Minister Thompson said that the government, through the Ministry of Environment in Grand Bahama immediately conducted their own independent testing and reported that the results were normal.
“We want to inform the public that as a result of what was found, the results of the testing the water levels were normal,” said Minister Thompson.
Giving more information about the tests that were conducted, Bertha McPhee-Duncanson, Chief Health Inspector from the Ministry of Environmental Health in Grand Bahama, noted that analysts from Environment Monitoring Risk Assessment Department (EMRAD) collected 15 samples along Taino Beach, beginning from the dredging area of the sea wall, ending at Stoned Crab Restaurant.
“We did two analyses – a chemical analysis, which was consistent with seawater, we also did a microbiology analysis and the samples were sent to our lab in Nassau. We got the results, and they were consistent with the quality that is acceptable for bathing water,” said Duncanson.
“So, the department of environmental health has no objection with that facility being used as a recreation site for swimming, based on the levels of coliforms that were found at the time of our sampling.”
Executive Director of Waterkeepers Bahamas, Rashema Ingraham, said that they were able to return to Taino Beach to do a follow-up sample collection since the previous report had gone out. She said they conducted a second set of tests.
“We’re happy to let the public know that our tests came out satisfactory and all the tests passed,” said Ingraham. “We are encouraging the public to use that information only as an advisory, but to be alerted of any future notices as a protection for the public’s safety.”
Joseph Darville, Chairman of Save The Bays congratulated the government and the Ministry of Environment for responding immediately to the information that had initially been released to the media, with respect to Taino Beach.
“Waterkeepers Bahamas is concerned about water that is drinkable, fishable, swimmable, and therefore we see this as an occasion to partner with the Government, to make certain that all of these beaches where Bahamians and thousands of tourists come to swim and have fun are always kept clean and pure,” said Darville.
Minister Thompson said that the Office of the Prime Minister in Grand Bahama, along with the Department of Environmental health, will continue to ensure that beaches, not just at Taino Beach, but around the island remain safe for Bahamians and tourists alike.