DEVELOPER PRESENTS EIA TO DEVELOP ROAD SALT POND
Mr Tom Graham, an American developer, who undertook to prepare and submit an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Anguilla Government, has now officially submitted the EIA to the Planning Department. The study is on the Reclamation of the Road Salt Pond. It was done by Ocean Earth Technologies one of whose consultants, Sandy Nettles, previously did some work in Anguilla. The EIA will now be evaluated by all stakeholders in the different government agencies.
Mr Graham, who lives in New York, has a background in international development and business, having founded and run a number of successful Internet companies. He has also served in the US Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa. A principal of the Anguilla Saltworks Company, he has applied to the Anguilla Government for approval to reclaim the Road Salt Pond and to use the salt to manufacture bath and body products for local, regional and international markets. Salt from the pond was originally exported to the Trinidad oil refinery until the salt operation was closed down in 1985 due to shipping and other difficulties.
The Anguilla Saltworks Company, established by Mr Graham, proposes to “reclaim, restore and modernise the Road Salt Pond and commercial saltworks operation and run it in a similar way to how it was run from 1855 to 1955,” the application states. The company “is proposing to manufacture and sell a line of luxury organic bath and body products made from environmentally sustainable renewable natural resources found in Anguilla.”
Mr Graham, 57, visited The Anguillian newspaper several days ago to announce the completion and submission of the EIA. The 4-inch thick document was submitted along with a variety of videos showing the underlying data modelling used to produce the EIA. The estimated cost of his project is eight million EC dollars.
Mr Graham visited Anguilla on various occasions recently. In addition to meeting with Government officials, he has had meetings with members of the Sandy Ground community to explain his proposed project. He told The Anguillian last week that rather than being a traditional single-line business, the Anguilla Saltworks Company had undertaken to operate a number of business lines simultaneously and in concert. It aims at being “a fully functional saltworks, a manufacturer of sophisticated bath and body products, a retailer, an exporter, and an ecotourism demonstration and tourist site.”
Mr Graham continued: “One of the benefits of having so many business lines is that it offers young Anguillians a wide variety of jobs that will require different skills and talents. Whether producing and harvesting the salt, manufacturing and bottling the different products, running a retail store, providing back office functions, or staffing the demonstration site, workers will have a wide variety of interesting jobs to match their interest, skills and talents.
“This means that in the pond, you will have employees working outdoors and using scientific equipment and machinery to reap the salt. In the manufacturing building you will have employees mixing the salt with fragrances using different formulas and creating new products. In the retail space you will have workers merchandising and selling the products to tourists. Upstairs, you will have finance, shipping and Internet workers keeping things moving. Each of these employees is critical to the company’s success and they are all coordinated and related, but the types of workers in each of these areas will be very different.”
He said that while the company’s main focus was to be as financially successful as possible, part of its mission was to encourage other Anguilla-based manufacturing efforts to focus on mentoring young Anguillians.
Mr Graham outlined various other matters relating to the project as follows:
“The driving force behind the project is to make money but also to use the profits to invest in Anguilla and its environment. 25% of company’s profits (or 5% of its revenues, whichever is greater) will go to the Anguilla National Trust for environmental projects. Another 25% of company’s profits (or 5% of its revenues, whichever is greater) will go to the Government of Anguilla to fund important social programs and also to serve as lease payment for use of the pond which is Government property. By linking payments to performance, Anguillian society, as a whole, will profit with the success of the company.
“Another positive social aspect of the project is that the company’s employees will eventually own 25% of the company under an employee stock option plan that rewards hard work, success and dedication. By owning what they are creating, the company’s employees will have pride of ownership in the company.
“For hundreds of years, salt production has been part of Anguilla’s national heritage and it is the goal of the company to preserve, maintain and expand on this history. The heritage is currently being lost to time. It is my hope that within a couple of years the saltworks at Road Salt Pond will be the most productive and profitable it has ever been and, rather than being an industry of the past, it will be an industry of the future.
“The way the project is structured, it will be a demonstration of environmentally sustainable development and will attract visitors to learnmore about its operations. Our goal is to be carbon neutral in Anguilla, and we will operate efficiently and are incorporating renewable energy production into the project over time.”
Mr Graham said that his company would “dedicate the eastern half of the pond to preserving and enhancing the natural flora of the pond and increasing the bird population.”He added that “the entire saltworks will be operated in a similar manner to the eastern preserve and will, at every step, work to preserve and strengthen the pond environment.”
He reported that the Government, as well as a number of people, was very supportive of the projects for the above reasons. He explained that some protection would be placed around the pond, but in such a way that persons could access the area while the salt operations continued.
Mr Graham has had a long interest in the development of the Road Pond and held discussions with a number of past Government officials over the years. His persistence as a visionary developer of the pond, since 1999/2000 when he first visited Anguilla, continues today. He has the strong support of his wife who has worked with the Clinton and Obama administrations and always has been committed to public service.