Plymouth Port back in operation after 15-year pause

BRADES, Montserrat– Government is giving sand miners shipping through the reopened Plymouth Port a 50% reduction on export charges says the Honourable Premier Reuben Meade.

Last Tuesday, Shamrock Industries Ltd. coordinated the shipping of 3000 tons of sand from the once abandoned port, now part of the island’s Exclusion Zone.

Owner Nigel Osborne said three companies are presently utilizing the government’s invitation to ship sand via the pier out of use since Soufriere Hills Volcano began erupting more than 15 years ago.

Premier Meade said last week he was pleased that the first day of shipping went smoothly and praised the joint efforts of both public and private partners. He added that using the port would allow the sand mining industry to continue uninhibited by the increase in road works on the North of the island.

Previously, miners had to take the sand from Belham Valley to the port at Little Bay. That has been put on hold as road works begin in earnest from Salem to St. Johns. A weight restriction has also been enforced for the truckers, which limits the quantity of sand they could carry on the main roads.

Osborne said the sand is stockpiled at a holding area in Lovers Lane prior to loading on the barge. He felt confident that the resumption of shipping from Plymouth would benefit the truckers but also the island as well. However, he believes government should not abandon its plans to build a permanent facility either at Foxes or Isles Bay.

Before shipping could resume, Shamrock Industries had to complete several formalities including a contingency plan which had to be approved by the Disaster Management Coordination Agency (DMCA). The truckers also had to be supplied with radios and at regular intervals the company is required to check in with the Montserrat Volcano Observatory for updates.

Osborne said they were not overly concerned about activity from the volcano, which has been in a paused state for two years now.

In November 2011 the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) lowered Hazard Level from three to two which allowed for daytime access to the Exclusion Zone.