BVI News

Residents distressed: Noxious incinerator breeds health issues, devalues properties

Pockwood Pond residents put concerns to Health Minister Ronnie Skelton (centre) about the noxious smoke emissions from government’s incinerator in the area. (BVI News photo)

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

After years of being exposed to unfiltered smoke emissions in their community, residents of Pockwood Pond have said they are now in fear for their lives and the wellbeing of their families.

During a community meeting on Tuesday evening, several residents spoke out against government officials and what is being described as a lacklustre attempt to procure and install a ‘scrubber device’, which is to be used to filter the noxious fumes being emitted from government’s incinerator in Pockwood Pond.

“This is years now we hearing we are getting scrubbers … When are these scrubbers going to get here?” Asked one female resident who said some persons in the community have now developed respiratory illnesses.

“You have persons that never have asthma, and from the time all these burning and smoking [started, they now] have asthma,” she said.

She said one of her grandchildren is among the persons who have developed these respiratory problems, adding that this has taken a toll on her pockets.

The resident told government officials that she has spent a considerable amount on hospital visits and air purifier machines.

One male resident of Pockwood Pond also claims his health and that of his family have been consistently deteriorating — so much so that he now uses and carries around four different types of inhalers.

This resident displays his inhalers at the community meeting on Tuesday.

Smoke emissions have devalued my property 

He further claimed that the smoke emission issue has devalued his property and has made it considerably difficult to sell. This, he said, has forced him to remain in the area, despite his desire to relocate.

While responding to the concerns of residents, Health Minister Ronnie Skelton said: “It is true that since I am here about six to seven years, I should already have a scrubber on the incinerator. But, I don’t and I’m not going to find any excuses for it,” he said.

He said the incinerator that is now in use at Pockwood Pond was purchased during his government’s 2003 to 2007 term in office. He further said a scrubber was supposed to arrive with it that scrubber but that did not happen and the incinerator was installed without it.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Petrona Davies said the government had ordered the incinerator from a Virginia-based company called Consutech and the corresponding scrubber is still being manufactured.

She said the delay in getting the scrubber hinged on a supplier who was contracted by Consutech but that supplier later went out of business; forcing the company to seek other alternatives.

$400,000 spent on absent scrubber, so far

Davies explained that a scrubber had to be ‘completely’ engineered and designed to fit the incinerator and finding the skills to do that took some time.

“It has been years of effort because we at the Ministry of Health understand the importance of having the scrubber installed,” she told community members.

She said $400,000 – which represents half of the total cost of the scrubber – has already been paid and it has been in manufacturing mode ever since.

She also said the BVI does not have the luxury of going to a different company as the incinerator was bought from Consutech and that company is trying to assist the territory.

“It is frustrating and it is embarrassing,” she admitted. “If there is something more that we could do to have the scrubber installed sooner, we would have done it.”

Community union

Head of the Department of Waste Management Greg Massicote said a BVI representative previously paid a visit to Consutech to check on the progress of the scrubber. But, in light of the increased urgency, he said another visit needs to happen.

Residents have plans to form a ‘union’ that will serve as a conduit between the community and the government as it relates to finding solutions for the problems surrounding this particular issue.

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  1. Wowww says:

    This is bad & the government don’t care, this smoke just killing people, residents from St. John even complaining. NDP don’t care time to make a change, wheater you like it or not NDP is demolished.

    Like 20
    Dislike 2
    • Rubber Duck says:

      If you check out the Consutate Web Site you will see BVI listed as an ongoing project. They are still in business though the website looks ancient. They claim they make both wet and dry scrubbers themselves so why there would be years of delay is not clear.

      Can anyone imagine any private company paying out $400,000 , not receiving the goods half paid for for 7 years and doing nothing about it?

      Breathtaking cavalier attitude with the tax payers money.

      Never mind the ongoing pollution.

  2. Iron lion says:

    If I had millions of dollars to build a house, I would not build it next to a pile of garbage, but that is just me.

    Like 7
    Dislike 8
    • Pockwood Pond Resident says:

      Some of us have been in Pockwood Pond long before there was an incinerator and the need for a scrubber. So your statement is pretty stupid if you ask me. Which you haven’t but I just thought that you should be enlightened. The DMV is in a new building, built privately, right across the street from the incinerator. It is staffed by government employees many of whom cannot work some days because of the smoke coming from the incinerator/dump. So the government has sent its employees straight to Pockwood Pond to become ill along with the rest of us who built our homes and then became the victims of the governments complete stupidity.

      Like 17
      Dislike 1
    • Think! says:

      Some houses were built when the incinerator was at Duff’s Bottom. Also remember there is a double fire in Pockwood Pond.

  3. This is criminal says:

    The people of Pockwood Pond and surrounding areas, St. John, and St.Thomas have been complaining for decades, yes decades about the toxic fumes from the open air burning of garbage, yet successive governments have done absolutely nothing significant to halt the practice.

    Not only are respiratory ailments harming residents in the path of the toxic smoke, but some people have developed cancer.

    In my mind this is criminal behavior on the governments part, and some people need locking up. Short of being locked up, the government needs to be sued until they get their act together.

    In this day and age, the BVI has to do better. No one should have to be exposed to this serious health risk. The BVI should be a long way from open burning of garbage. That’s unacceptable in 2018.

    Like 26
  4. Truth says:

    THEY DONT CARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Like 19
    Dislike 1
  5. Curious says:

    I would like to know which of our representatives is the agent or local partner for this company that built the incinerator

    Like 14
    Dislike 1
  6. WTF? says:

    They would care if the House of Assembly meetings were held in Pockwood Pond from now on. I bet that scrubber would be installed in under a week!

    Like 25
    Dislike 1
  7. Reasonable Man says:

    It is incredible that Pockwood Pond and the whole north west coast be dosed regularly with this toxic smoke and for years none one has taken this relatively straight forward step of getting a scrubber installed. How can anyone be so uncaring about something so important?

    Like 20
  8. Hmmm says:

    You seriously think Ronnie gives a _____ what you think? He never has and never will! This goes all the way back to Dancia Penn days when a ‘scrubber’ was bought. No one yet knows where it is! Absolutely disgusting.

    Like 11
  9. Seriously says:

    The whole Pockwood Pond area is a complete environmental carbuncle…

    Like 14
  10. @Hmmm says:

    “This goes all the way back to Dancia Penn days when a ‘scrubber’ was bought. No one yet knows where it is! Absolutely disgusting.” Maybe paid for but never delivered.

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
  11. Hmm says:

    The minister just admitted to breach of duty of care that he knows was owed to the people and is the causation of their health issues. Sounds like a class action law suit for negligence, personal injury and the like. Hopeless pathetics. Sick of them. How many times they arse going spend money for things that never come, or is that the storyline for the stealing… Struuupes

    Like 8
    Dislike 1
  12. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps that garbage disposal complex is in the wrong place?

    Like 2
    Dislike 1
  13. West End Constituent says:

    Passed there this morning after the meeting amd it was still burning. What are we accomplishing with these meetings except to waste your valuable time which most of us don’t have especially since we are now trying to keep food on our tables and shelters over our heads. We need action instead
    Of meetings.

  14. Disgrace says:

    The open burning of garbage is a total disgrace. As a BVIslander I am so embarrassed. This is Beyond just 3rd World for a territory of our means.

  15. CRAP says:

    The scrubbers had to have been designed when the original purchase order was sent to the vendor. That is crap. Make that company supply what was paid for. You don’t need a trip – just tell them you want it by such and such a date. If they don’t supply it, sue them. Send a message to a few news agencies about it and get it broadcast around the world as well.

  16. /////// says:

    The whole thing is a lot of crap. VIP and NDP are at fault…….Someone should initiate a law suit against them for all the people being exposed to this blatant poisoning.

  17. ??? says:

    I don’t know why a Scrubber became the focus of this discussion when the whole area is often on fire. That is a bigger issue than the scrubber itself. Now they have resorted to climbing the hillside to dump more waste. Soon they will be up Mount Sage. This is not a practical nor sustainable solution. I have been saying for year that some of this material needs to be exported or recycled. But I heard that their excuse was that it was “Too Expensive”. Metal cannot burn in an Incinerator; Glass cannot burn in an incinerator, Old Fridges, Stoves, etc. cannot burn in an Incinerator. So what are we going to do with them? At some point common sense must prevail.

  18. Standards says:

    It is unfortunate that our government (both current and past) seem to only react when there is a crisis. There is far too much complacency and no sense of urgency about anything whatsoever! I am a Carrot Bay resident and we built our home 15 years ago. Even then, the wind has always blown the smoke from the Pockwood pond incinerator over the hill into our area. We have to close all the windows to try to alleviate some of the smell of smoke. Over the years, the smell has gotten so bad that I don’t dare drink my cistern water, because the same toxins being carried with the smoke are deposited on our roof tops and go into our cisterns. It’s awful and it is not just limited to Pockwood Pond. For all the money that the Territory supposedly has (or had), you would not know it by looking at our country. Our government should be ashamed!

  19. Backwards says:

    So turd world

  20. Director, Alkebulan Minds Recycling Inc. says:

    We collect huge bulks of raw recyclable materials. Alkebulan Minds Recycling Inc has been established since April 5th….we are the solution!

  21. Concern says:

    A very good idea to form a recycling company

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