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Toxic waste management in Abaco Island, The Bahamas

In 1995, the government of Bahamas jointly with Owens-Illinois Corporation cleaned-up a sugar mill site where during the 70´s more than 40 fifty-gallon of pesticides were disposed of.


(based on David Pellow´s book Resisting Global Toxics) 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Toxic waste management in Abaco Island, The Bahamas
Country:Bahamas, The
State or province:Abaco Islands
Location of conflict:Abaco
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Specific commodities:Toxic Waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

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Level of Investment:cost of de-contamination: $370,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:1991
End of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:Owens-Illinois Corporation from United States of America - owner
Relevant government actors:Bahamian Ministry of Health; Department of Environmental Services;
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ejos: reEarth (environmental NGO);
Supporters: Greenpeace International;Global Response;
Conflict and Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts
Potential: Malnutrition, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsFear and uncertainty about the health effects associated with fifty 55-gallon drums of dioxin-based herbicides.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights
Potential: Displacement
Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:Activists prepared to demand of Owens-Illinois that the obsolete pesticides be “returned to sender” rather than burned or buried in the Bahamas.
Some of the alternatives to deal with the toxic waste at that time were:
1) entombing the wastes on site
2) bringing in a mobile incinerator to burn the wastes on site
3) transporting the wastes to Grand Bahama for incineration.
However, according to with Bahaman environmentalists and supporters such as Greenpeace "since burning or burying this type of waste guarantees both immediate and long-term environmental contamination, Green- peace would like to see the U.S. company responsible for exporting the toxics to the Bahamas remove all the waste and return it to the U.S".
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Yes
Briefly explain:The government and Owens-Illinois assumed the monetary cost of the clean-up of the sugar mill site.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Basel Convention (signed by Bahamas in 1993)

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice. By David Naguib Pellow. 2007 Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

An Abaconian Story

by Larry Smith
[click to view]

Other documents

Abaco Island
[click to view]

Other comments:"Dioxin has been banned in the United States where areas in which it was used had to be evacuated.” That is if the United States banned the substance and evacuated persons who may have been exposed to it, why should the Bahamas have to play host to the same pollutant? (A Bahamian journalist)
Meta information
Contributor:ENVJustice Project
Last update03/10/2018
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