Diane Phillips: Colin B. Archer’s Wrap Up Recalls Chilling Nerve Gas Dumping Details

Colin B. Archer’s Wrap Up Recalls Chilling Nerve Gas Dumping Details

By: Diane Phillips

When a Methodist minister, the leader of the Methodist faith for many, writes a tell-all book about his life, you aren’t too surprised to hear him wax eloquently about the one woman he loved for half a century, or the fact that he never lost faith no matter how many challenges he faced.

So most of Rev. Dr.  Colin B. Archer’s book, Wrap Up, is predictable, encouraging, spiritual and uplifting – all served with a heavy helping of God is good and life is about service. But there is one subject and one chapter in the book when a different side of the soft-spoken Colin Archer emerges and the man whose voice, under normal circumstances, could rock a crying baby to sleep emerges as a rebel and fighter.

The object of his activism as a young minister was the dumping of 67 tons of deadly nerve gas by the US military off the coast of Abaco in August 1970. Archer’s description of the events leading up to the decision to dump off the shores of The Bahamas, the bitter fight to stop it, the campaign that drew world attention and the creation of the UN-based The peaceful Uses of the Seabed makes for a bone-chilling read and a part of history everyone in The Bahamas should remember. “Stored in the bowels of the rusting freighter were 418 concrete and steel vaults containing a total of 125,400 rockets of obsolete nerve gas. There was also one coffin containing a land mine of highly toxic VX gas. The army said the nerve gas was already leaking in small amounts within its coffins.” At 28, Archer joined the protest, carrying a placard “If it’s safe, you keep it.” Protests and echoes of horror and disbelief were heard around the world with the shouts still in the air when the ship carrying the payload of poison was scuttled and poisonous gas began to leak even as the old warship was sinking to its grave 16,000 feet below the surface of the waters off Abaco. It would be the last time any ocean was used for dumping of poisonous gas. The reader may have a new view of Dr. Colin B. Archer, that voice that reassures us on morning radio, that all will be right with the world if you just believe. Also fascinating to note other protestors who stepped up and spoke out including Sean McWeeney, Allyson Maynard, Peter Maynard and Campbell Cleare. Interesting, too, that they all became lawyers and leaders. If you do not want to read about Dr. Colin Archer’s love for his wife and family because it is just so ideal or his battle to bring Methodists together or his time in Jamaica or the birth of his children, read Wrap Up for its honest portrayal of a shameful chapter in history when the US dumped on The Bahamas and then promised never to do it anywhere to any country or peoples again.

With a will and away

Every now and then you discover a little place that is like your secret favourite new restaurant, or shop, or service provider and you don’t know whether to shout it or keep it to yourself for fear widespread discovery will somehow spoil the find. So, over the holidays my husband and I discovered a little place for breakfast, brunch or lunch that is too good not to share. Run by the husband and wife team of Daniel and Sam (short for Samantha) Newman, it seats at most 50 people, largely stacked along a long wall and with bench seats on one side, tables and chairs opposite, plus a few independent tables. This unlikely conglomeration of restaurant seating is tucked into what was once an alleyway between two buildings and now is protected from the weather, so to speak, by a canopy of overlapping umbrellas. Seating is outdoors only and what interior space there is is reserved for a galley-like kitchen with everyone reaching over and around each other to prepare some of the tastiest food ever produced on a total of four burners, two ovens and one grill. Not a microwave or other restaurant shortcut method in sight. Every morsel of the soft, warm baked brie with pecans is worth the extra inch around the waistline. Delicious omelets, lemon crepes. Waiters who take special pride in what they do, all probably studying at a nearby college. Ok, so the reason I can share the name and – Over the Bridge Café – is because it’s a flight away, near the Intracoastal on famed Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach, Florida, where it’s rumoured that the café is the only mom and pop restaurant left on the avenue known for its history and charm and where today most of those tony outdoor cafes are actually owned by large corporations.

Looking for one good driver for one-time Atlanta to Miami trip

We keep reminding ourselves that recovering from Dorian is a marathon not a sprint but as the months go by, getting assistance is getting tougher. All we need now is someone who will drive from Atlanta to Miami (for a reasonable fee) to deliver donated pet supplies to a container headed to Nassau. The supplies – food, medications, bandages and more – were donated to Dr. Tia Bain, a Bahamian who practices veterinary medicine in Atlanta. The Nassau chapter of LINKS has offered to consolidate the pet supplies destined for Humane Societies in Nassau and Grand Bahama with its next shipment of donations. One driver, please…you can e-mail me at diane@dpa-media.com