Storage of explosives “has to be” in government’s storage facility – Acting Police Commissioner

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Storage of explosives “has to be” in government’s storage facility – Acting Police Commissioner
Desir
Desir speaking at Wednesday's joint preference, attended by officials from the Ministry of Health, Fire Services, and NEMO.
Desir speaking at Wednesday’s joint preference, attended by officials from the Ministry of Health, Fire Services, and NEMO.

In light of Tuesday’s deadly explosion at the Cul de Sac quarry, Acting Police Commissioner Milton Desir responded to a television reporter’s question at a press conference yesterday about what the law stipulates regarding the storage of explosives.

The reporter asked: “The citizenry has been acting as judge and jury since the explosion and many are questioning what is the protocol for storage of explosive devices, can you speak to that?”

Desir responded by saying explosives, “if imported… must first have an import permit from the Commissioner of Police”. Additionally, the senior cop said “storage has to be in the government’s storage facility” located in the Castries area.

He said when explosives are needed, they are given on “demand”.

“This is the procedure for storing explosives lawfully obtained in the island,” he further stated.

The cause of Tuesday’s blast that killed at least three people and injured over 20 have not yet been officially ascertained as investigation is still in an infancy stage, according to government officials.

However, several survivors, who were working at the quarry when the blast occurred, told various media agencies that the explosion was likely triggered by welding works that were being carried out on a container that had explosives or explosive material.

The eyewitnesses told media houses that a worker was doing welding work near or on the container when it sparked a fire. With smoking emanating from the container, the workers said this prompted several others to jump into action to try and extinguish.

One survivor told HTS News4orce that he along with with others were unaware that the container had explosives or explosive material until the rush began to contain the fire. He alleged that there was no signage indicating that explosives were in the container.

However, Rayneau Gajadhar, leader of the RG Group of Companies, the parent company for RG Quarry Ltd, which operates the Cul de Sac quarry, told a radio station on Wednesday that the promotion of safety in his business has always been a priority.

Gajadhar said while everyone is curious about what caused the explosion,  the focus now is on the dead and injured, and their families.

“In terms of a statement as to what happened I cannot make a statement now as I do not have the facts….  We are all are foused on the people…,” he told the radio station.

In a statement posted on Facebook on Wednesday, the company said at this stage “we give our unwavering support and cooperation to the investigators as they assist and support us in finding out the cause of this unfortunate accident”.

Gajahdar’s brother, 38-year-old father of two, Simon Straughn, the quarry’s operations manager, was among three persons killed by the explosion. Eyewitnesses alleged that Straughn was one of several workers who responded to smoke coming from the container after he was directly alerted.

The other dead persons have been identified as Darren Gabriel and Kim Khodra, workers for the company.

The speculative cause of the explosion has evoked widespread debate on social media.

Several members of the popular Facebook group, St. Lucians Aiming for Progressive (SLAP) have expressed their concern.

One member wrote: “In Saint Lucia there is an Explosives Act: The law relates to the manufacture, importation, sale, storage, use and disposal of explosives. The persons who are responsible for carrying out and supervising the carrying out of this Act need to account for the incident that took place at the Quarry yesterday. There must be a public inquest to determine what happened, why and who should be held culpable.”

Another said the tragedy is a “no-go zone for politics” but  urged the authorities to investigate, hold accountable and compensate.

The blogger further wrote that the Cul De Sac tragedy calls for a “timely, comprehensive, serious, and independent” investigation.

He said the scene of the tragedy must be secured and the investigators should be given “wide berth” and be free from “preconceived notions and allegiances” to ensure the integrity of the investigation.

The writer however cautioned that the general public must allow time for the completion of the investigation and not preempt the results and findings.

He said the public must resist “all temptations for prejudgment, conjecture, and conspiracy theories”.

“There is nothing to be gained politically from this tragedy by any side except for the charge of exploitation of a tragedy for political gain. You are doing a great disservice to the party whose interest you think you are advancing. It’s simply distasteful and disgusting.

“Finally the investigation should reveal all breaches of protocol for the handling and storage of hazardous materials.
It should lay bare all lapses in the observance and adherence to occupational health and safety issues in the work place.”

(36)(3)

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46 COMMENTS

  1. All construction workers working at heights over six feet, in confined spaces, over or near water or with flammable and or explosive materials must demand proper safety equipment and a competent watchman to monitor the task being performed. A rescue plan must be discussed with all personnel involved in the task before it begins.

    (5)(0)

  2. First question - So why these explosive was not in police custody..............good old boys clubs these days are over

    (2)(0)

      • THEY NOT CORRUPT ???? Dishonest TALK,,WATERGATE? CLINTON,NIXON,????need i state more..wikipedia states:
        Michael T. Flynn, National Security Advisor, was forced to resign on February 13, 2017 over conversations he had with Russian envoys about sanctions during the transition, possibly violating the Logan Act.
        Katherine Archuleta, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, was forced to resign on July 10, 2015 after cyberintrusions allowed the theft of data concerning 22 million people, some of whom had applied for sensitive security clearances.[2]
        Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014 – It was discovered that officials in the Phoenix VA hospital lied about how long the wait times were for veterans to see a doctor.[3] An investigation of delays is being conducted by the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General.[4][5] The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, General Eric Shinseki, voluntarily resigned.[6]
        2013 IRS scandal – IRS admitted to inappropriate investigation of conservative political groups associated with the Tea Party that may not have met the criteria for certain tax exemptions.[7] Later, it was found that the IRS investigated groups with the label "progressives", "tea party, and "patriots", but "tea party" applications specifically had to be sent to Washington for review, substantiating the claims of partisan audits.[8][9][10][11][12] The president demanded and accepted the resignation of Steven T. Miller Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2016/05/u-s-government-corrupt-ever.html

        (0)(0)

    • who needs the US government?????..why are minorities namely black people being profiled like subhumans in the USA? We need to learn to handle our business correctly, laws exist they must be upheld without favour or preferences. We have so many small drug busts,but this happens, what is really going on here?

      (0)(0)

  3. I think we need help from the FBI or some other top overseas agency to investigate this . real professions.

    (9)(3)

  4. I am sorry but Rayneau needs to be held fully accountable for this great tragedy. Not only was it wrong to have such a large amount of dynamite in company possession and worst yet on site, they held it in a metal container! Has anyone ever had the opportunity to stand in side one of those things??? The hear is unbearable and to use a welder? Whilst it is filled with dynamite? A gross case of negligence here. We are entirely too lax. This cannot happen again. RG Group should be sued and someone should be jailed. This is a gross violation of safety and a price must be paid

    (27)(5)

    • I totaly agree he has to be held ccountable for the deaths of his workers and injured. He has an attitude towards his workers not caring too much, and paying minimal....Humility is needed by him, he can be a bit arrogant at times...Did he have "Employee Liability Insurance..??? at such a dangerous site...thats what needs to be asked.

      (10)(0)

  5. Now you coming out an talk that crap, if you or whoever responsible for the storage did you'll job, lives wouldn't be lost today.

    (8)(3)

    • The workers work on order so who ever told the worker to weld that container must have knew the container has explosive I believe it was done for insurance money

      (2)(2)

  6. Hope they have some good lawyers in st lucia to represent the people for their losses. they need to sue that company for everything they have and the government too for not doing their job. choooops!!!

    (8)(1)

  7. Something smells how can he have so much explosives stored at a Location that is unsecured. Did this shipment just come in OR has he been storing that there for a while. The people want to know. Customs for one need to answer that one and the government of the day as well as the police should give a statement. I hear two or years ago Mr. Raneau renovated Central police station free of charge and even painted it the color of his business place.. I don't Want to speculate but was this a case of you scratch my back and I scratch yours . We need to know

    (13)(1)

    • Police????....should the police he held accountable for every single thing that happens....innocent persons get slayed using illegal arms...could this not be....anyways food for thought..sincere condolences to the families

      (0)(0)

  8. SOME PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING IN SL LUCIA BECAUSE OF NAME THIS NEEDS TO STOP WHAT A SHAME

    (17)(5)

  9. One thing with St Lucians authorities, they are indeed a bunch of loco hypocrites. Only when tragedy happens they run their mouths useless . RG is not a new company and has been using explosives for the longest while in the quarry. These explosives we not made In the yard at the quarry. They had to have been imported. So why couldn't Slaspa who has the responsibly for inspection of Containers do a better job by alerting the proper authorities which would then be pass on to the police department who in turn would put it in proper storage according to the words of Mr. Milton Desir. This is the same way drugs and other illegal stuff get entry into the country with authorities casting a blind eye. My condolences to the family. I think you'll should be fully compensated

    (28)(12)

    • Dear mad:

      Please note that SLASPA is not the local agency responsible for the inspection of the contents of imported containers. Further, once a container has been released from our Ports, the responsibility of handling, storage and custody of said container is that of the importer who must do so in compliance with international standards.

      - Business Development and Corporate Communications Department, SLASPA.

      (19)(3)

  10. I note that all my calls on the previous and present government about the pollution caused by this company in the CUL de Sac river and bay fell on deaf ears. Now we are worried about dolphins which will get fed and housed better than most St. Lucians. Where were the petitioners and National Trust?

    (5)(6)

  11. Why was Jamshidi arrested and charged under suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter in such record time? While at a business establishment 4 people are dead while many others injured under suspicion of explosives being stored at an unsecured location? Is there an inequality with which our police and justice system treats business people as against ordinary people? By the way, whatever happened to the cases in which cocaine was found at a business establishment and in a vehicle driven by a businessman?? Yeah what happened?? I am sure the press have not been following since I am not hearing?

    (21)(2)

  12. The dynamits must have gotten into the country through custems....how could it have been released from the ports ????
    Who gave permission for taling it out also has to be investigated.

    (12)(1)

  13. If 1 gun is found illegally stored by any citizen they put them in jalle. Some can store a whole container of dynamits and ......hope justice will be served.

    (11)(2)

    • DumbAss He Runs A Quarry He Has Permission To Import Dynamite And Needed Explosives For His Business Furthermore According To The Act The Dyamite Is STored In The Government Storage Facility And Is Given To Its Owner "On Demand" Where Does Illegality Comes In?

      (9)(13)

  14. While I agree with most that was said, I am particularly suspicious of those who insist that the issue is non political. Don't get me wrong, I am a great advocate for not politicizing circumstances. HOWEVER, that was the clarion call of the public where it was perceived that the businessman in question had too much influence on the last administration and the issue of him being favored for too many government contracts was widely debated. I don't see why that the ordinary St. Lucian would not associate the issue with politics. This is why I am greatly suspicious of those who have deliberately attempted to stem the conversation away from politics. It is reasonable to assume that once you appear political to the public you will be looked upon in that light, matter of fact this influential position would almost certainly allow you certain privileges. There are some businesses and business people who fund certain (not both) political parties in St. Lucia, some who even buy various gifts for party people so is it unreasonable to assume that they can wield influence if that party is elected into office?

    I for one would like to know how comes so many explosives was stored in that unsecured location? Many of us felt the magnitude of the blast almost 10 miles away. I say that it was unsecured because this event happened. Even things such as evidence was unsecured at our main police station since thieves were able to get at them. So whats really going on? You better stop talking or deirecting people as to what they should talk about before you expose yourself "non-political."

    (7)(6)

  15. The FB group St. Lucians Aiming for Progress should spend less time playing judge and hiding behind their computer screens and actually instead get out into the community on the streets and also engage their elected officials.

    #BringBackStLucianGlory

    #BlackTwitter

    #IneffectiveSLUGovernment

    (7)(1)

  16. Condolences to all families. It is very unfortunate that only after tragedies authorities have much to say or criticise. The explosives should have been locked and secure by authorities. This is not a new company and I am sure that they've used explosives before. Were the explosives secured before?
    The authorities and government need to do their part whether it is with better regulations, or assignment. Let's stay strong and realize that it could have been worse. God bless.

    (11)(0)

  17. My condolences to the families and friends of those who died as a result of this tragedy at Cul De Sac and s speedy recovery of those who are injured. Based on preliminary reports it would seem that carelessness and lack of adherence to safety procedures may have played a significant part in the cause of this tragedy. Previous actions by this company seem to reveal that it has a bad record in adherence to responding to safety procedures. The demolition of the old fire station building on Jeremie St. last year was a good example of this when it failed to execute safety procedures in the removal of the asbestos materials which formed part of the roof of this structure. Who knows how many persons who were in this vicinity are now affected with Mesothelioma (Asbestosis) I hope that every effort will be made to ensure that all companies are made to respond to established safety procedures in order to avoid a repeat of such a disaster

    (14)(4)

  18. As with everything else in this country, the problem is enforcement. There are clear rules, guidelines and laws on everything. Authorities choose not to enforce existing laws. No amount of laws on the books matter once it isn't being enforced on the ground. Assuming the company did not act prudently in it's acquisition of the explosives. Prior to that incident, if someone blew the whistle and informed the police, do you think they would ever investigate? Criminals and law breakers are responsible for crime. The police is responsible for enforcement and apprehension. The criminals do their part. The police routinely fail on theirs. The problem is the police.

    (19)