With a severe influx of sargassum seaweed expected, the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment coastal zone management unit says it is prepared to treat with it in keeping with the 2018 Sargassum Emergency Response Plan.
The division’s coastal engineer, Richard Hinds, told Newsday the unit has been continuously monitoring sites from Speyside to Pigeon Point, with special emphasis given to more affected sites such as Tyrrel’s Bay and Batteaux Bay in Speyside and Little Rockley Bay in Lambeau.
“As soon as we get a report of sargassum sighting, we try to monitor at that beach.
“What we would have done, we would have got the approval for two approved sites – one in the east, one in the west. So in Delaford there is an area that we utilise that we can bury the sargassum, and then in the west there is Friendship Estate – there is a small area that we utilise to store the sargassum and, of course, that is away from the general public. It allows us to transport the sargassum to site and store it to allow it to break down and not have any impact on any receptors for that matter.”
Hinds added: “We’ve recognised that particularly since around 2011, we are seeing sargassum reaching particularly on the Atlantic Coast between March/April all the way down to September. Initially that was until August but the last three years or so we’ve noticed that this is now going into September. So it’s really a situation that is constantly evolving…there’s a lot to learn about sargassum still.”
He said mechanical intervention was observed to negatively affect the quality of the beaches and as such the division was wary of such approaches.
“What we’ve been trying to do is utilise manual interventions and that means that we need rapid turnaround, so as soon as we know that there is sargassum coming to the beach, we try to get some teams organised so that it could be removed manually and taken off the site.”
He said where absolutely necessary, the unit will employ mechanical intervention in instances of overwhelming deposits but notes the effectiveness of manual interventions prompted by monitoring.