Concerns raised over installation of propane tanks at Daycare and Pre-school entrance
By Nisha Paul
Construction of Grenada’s multi-million dollar Silver Sands hotel project by Egyptian businessman, Naguib Sawiris is causing another major health concern for the nearby Kids R Wonderful Daycare and Pre-School.
THE NEW TODAY understands that the installation of (two) 2 large underground Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LGP) tanks on the Silver Sands property just a few meters away from the entrance of the school has left a bitter taste in the mouth of the operator of the institution, Michele Gilbert.
She is contending that the tacks are being erected a little “too close for comfort” to the users of the road leading down to the Grand Anse Beach and what can be considered the only entrance to and from the school.
Approximately three months before receiving approval from the Planning and Development Authority Board on April 30, 2015, Silver Sands developers broke ground in January 2015 on the property adjacent to Gilbert’s dwelling house and the facility where she operates her business, which provides accommodation for close to 100 toddlers ages three months to five years.
In June, 2017, the project, which is designed by TVA Consultants Ltd., broke ground once again, this time on a piece of land directly in front of Gilbert’s property, where the contractors from Quinn Construction Company, proceeded to erect a building which THE NEW TODAY understands will be utilised as a laundry mart.
This newspaper was able to obtain a copy of a letter dated June 9, which Gilbert, wrote to several ministries detailing her concerns to the relevant authorities as it relates to “the purpose of the tanks,” and also requesting information as to “the safety measures (that) are in place in the event of a gas leak, which will be detrimental to the health and safety of my family, the children in my care and my staff.”
Speaking exclusively with THE NEW TODAY last week Thursday, Gilbert indicated that she was alerted about the erection of the tanks by a concerned parent approximately one month ago and that no one connected with the Silver Sands “consulted her as to the installation of the gas tanks.”
She felt that the location of the tanks, approximately 9 feet away from her boundary line and within close proximity to the entrance of her home/business place was “too close for comfort.”
The road separating her property from the Silver Sands project, leads to the Grand Anse beach on one end and the Grand Anse Main road from the other end and is considered as her only way out in the event of an accident or hazard.
Apart from the underground tanks, an additional 4 white gas tanks have been installed directly in front of her gap and leading down to the Grand Anse beach.
Gilbert told this newspaper that the letter detailing her concerns was handed in to the Ministries of Health and Environment, Physical Planning Unit (PPU) but she has not received a response to date from any of them.
The letter was also sent to Quinn Construction, which responded by stating that it is the “general contractor responsible for the construction of the laundry building at Silver Sands (and does not) have responsibility for the design, operation or maintenance of the project once completed”.
In the response email, Quinn Company’s Business Manager Brigitte Assing, avowed to forward Gilbert’s letter of concern “to the relevant persons for their response – Mr. Nigel Renwick, the Project Manager (TVA Consultants) and to our employer’s representative Mr. Mehdi El-Fitouri, the Assistant General Manager of Joyau Des Caraibes Ltd.”
In a letter which was hand delivered to Gilbert last week Thursday afternoon, by Chris Britton for TVA Consultants Ltd. the company defended its decision to install the gas tanks in such close proximity to Gilbert’s home and business place.
The letter stated that the reason for the decision to use underground tanks in lieu of an above ground tank to service the laundry building, was “based on safety” to avoid running the “risk of collision from vehicles using the driveway even if the tank is cordoned off.”
The letter also pointed out that “the actual installation and placement of the tanks have been done in strict accordance with international codes specifically relating to the storage, handling and transportation of LPG”.
The letter also said in part: “In addition to adhering (to) the boundary setbacks as stipulated in the … codes, a reinforced block-work fence wall is being erected on three sides of the installation along the boundary with Kid’s R Wonderful Day Care & Pre-School, along the access road to the beach and along the southern line of the LPG enclosure”.
However, Gilbert is contending that international standards would not allow “something like that to be installed in such close proximity to a school.”
The Physical Planning Unit within the Ministry of Works is responsible for among other things, ensuring the orderly and progressive development of land, in a manner that will protect the environment and conserve the nation’s heritage and facilitating improved efficiency in the processing of applications for approval to develop land and monitoring of developments.
THE NEW TODAY contacted Head of the unit, Fabian Purcell on Monday, inquiring about the codes and guidelines used to install the gas tanks and seeking clarity on the issue.
However, he remained tight-lipped on the issue stating: “I cannot go to the press with any information. I have to get clearance through my principals at the Ministry of Finance.
“I am not answering any questions… I cannot give you any information until you go through my principals,” he said.
The PPU boss directed THE NEW TODAY reporter to contact the Information Officer within the Ministry of Finance, Ruth Roberts for further comments on the issue.
Roberts told this newspaper that the ministry is “unable to facilitate an interview at the moment because we have to do some research.”
This newspaper also contacted Project Manager at TVA Consultants, Trevor Renwick via telephone on Monday seeking clarity on the issue but he denied having any information about the installation of the gas tanks.
“I am not sure what you are talking about…if you have any concern give it in writing…I don’t do any interviews over the phone,” Renwick declared.
“I suggest that you contact my Secretary at the office or P.O. Box 570,” he added before hanging up his phone with the following words: “Have a lovely day”.
Well-placed sources identified Renwick as one of the persons who attempted to persuade Gilbert not to take her concerns to the local media as it would make the situation worst for her.
Renwick is quoted as saying to the property owner in a telephone exchange: “If you call the press then your parents are going to think it’s dangerous and they are going to take their children out of the school…I am advising you for your own interest, if you go to the press you are going to develop an issue around it”, he said.
“…If you go this route the effects are going to affect you because there is absolutely no danger…we are following American codes (and) there is nothing illegal about it and it poses no threat to you or your children”, he added.
Renwick also made mention of his company putting in place a new road going up to the Grand Anse beach, which he considered as the next best way escape route in the event of any danger.
According to a source a recent visit was made to the Daycare by a Day Care Supervisor from the Ministry of Education who concluded that the tanks are a hazard to the children.
The Silver Sands Hotel was initially scheduled for opening in March but has now been pushed back to October.