BVI News

Residents must sign non-liability agreement before receiving filter masks

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

Residents affected by smoke emissions from the Pockwood Pond waste facility will have no recourse if they develop complications due to the improper use of the government-issued carbon filter masks.

Chief Environmental Health Officer Lionel Michael told BVI News on Thursday that each resident must sign a letter resembling a non-liability agreement before being assigned one of the 400 masks being distributed.

At least 13 masks have been distributed to residents so far.

“We explained to them how to wear it, and we impress upon them to follow the instructions. We gave them a letter signed by me, and we said in the letter we are not accepting liability for the improper use of the masks. So the fit [of the mask to the face] is critical to ensure the smoke is sealed out,” Michael told BVI News.

He further said residents can feel free to contact the department with any questions they may have.

“It (the mask) is just a temporary measure because the [Pockwood Pond waste management] site needs to be fixed,” he added.

Masks not suitable for children under 10

Michael also underscored that the masks are not ideal for very young children.

“Children who are 10 and above can wear it, but children below that age — these masks are not suitable for them. We are sourcing other types of masks to supplement these. But these are what we have at the moment, and we are giving them out to help people to deal with the smoke,” he said.

Filters to be changed regularly

Michael said the filters embedded into the masks must also be changed regularly.

“We don’t anticipate the concentration of smoke going down to the neighbourhoods. It will be diluted. So people will still smell it, but the mask will help to reduce that. But the filters have to be changed every month, especially if you are in the smoke itself,” Michael noted.

According to the Chief Environmental Health Officer, his department will keep in contact with mask recipients, and when necessary, new filters will be provided to them.

Presently, residents must visit the department’s base of operations near the BVI Red Cross building on Station Avenue in Road Town to receive their masks. However, Michael told BVI News that community meetings are being considered for residents living in smoke-affected areas.

More about the masks

Elipse GVS masks, as they are called, were approved for meeting the appropriate safety standards by the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health in the UK.

They can give 95 per cent protection against smoke and particles that may be in the air, and are considered generally efficient.

The Elipse Mask website says the device is the most innovative patented concept of the re-usable mask and is among the lightest and most compact masks on the market.

These masks are made in the UK and sold in more than 100 countries and came at a cost of $20,000 to the Government of the Virgin Islands.

Screenshot of the non-liability agreement for the government-issued carbon filter mask.

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  1. Help me today says:

    See how slick these people is trying to be? They want people to sign non liability agreements in the event that if the masks don’t work the way they should, they cannot sue. I would very much prefer to order my own supply of surgical masks than wear those silence of the lamb masks. The 13 people is more than likely family and friends. You all really think people is that stupid? A freaking $5.00 mask they want people to sign non liability form for? People,you are better off going to a surgical supply company and investing in some surgical masks.

    Like 36
    Dislike 2
    • Wow says:

      Not to mention if you have children under 10yrs old…they such salt

      Like 23
      • BuzzBvi says:

        If they do not have masks to fit children who is liable for the ill health of the children? This is nonsense.

    • Rubber Duck says:

      What kind of admission is this from the government of a supposed tourist destination?

      Natives need to wear masks to live here?

      Will tourists be issued with masks on landing.?

      You only need one muckraking British newspaper to get this story and down will go the already tattered reputation of this country and down will go the tourist visits.

      Truly truly stupid.

      Fix the problem.

      Like 18
      • Lord Send Help! says:

        But what about the past years of smoke inhalation from this mess? Are those years gone unnoticed? When problems pop up, God forbids from this down the road who is to say what caused it, whether it is the past years of waste smoke inhalation or not wearing a mask each time you are in your house. Furthermore, how are we to sleep in those things? What a calamity! The stress from having to endure this smoke over the years alone is enough to do anyone in!

      • hmm says:

        go for it. Reporting it can only make it speed up fixing the issue. A problem shared isa problem halved.

  2. Smh says:

    What nonsense!

    Like 19
  3. Reply says:

    I would urge residents affected by by smoke emissions from the Pockwood Pond waste facility NOT to sign such a non-liability agreement.

    The reason is simply: There is no product including those mask that can 100% preclude a person from being afflicted with COPD (Chronic Respiratory Disease), lung cancer, or other cancers in the future as a consequence of chronic exposure to these toxic fumes.

    The government should NOT be asking anyone to sign such agreements.

    The people affected by those toxic fumes should know that they are at an increased risk of either developing chronic respiratory illnesses, some form of cancer including lung down the line, and should not put themselves in a situation that if God forbid this occurs, they have no legal recourse.

    For those potential 13 who have already signed them, I would further suggest they seek legal council, and try to get out of them.

    I cannot imagine any court would find them valid anyway when the science is not there to protect these people.

    Shame on the government for going there. This problem with the open burning of garbage has been going on for quite sometime over multiple governments, and there is no doubt mask or not people have become ill and will become ill secondary to it.

    No one should be forced to sign away their legal rights of holding the government accountable should they become ill in the future.

    Message to all individuals in those affected areas:

    DO NOT SIGN THESE non-liability agreement. The government is taking you as fools.

    You need legal recourse should you become ill. Do not tie your hands for a device that is not full-proof. Furthermore, toxins can enter your body thru water, or your skin.

    You are not safe being exposed to those toxic fumes, and the government needs to fix this third world open air garbage that has been problematic for years rather than having you sign your legal rights away.

    They should give those mask out freely without restrictions while addressing this urgent problem.

    Like 77
    Dislike 1
    • I second that says:


      Like 31
    • Agreed says:

      Open your eyes, the Government is taking us for fools. Don’t allow them to protect themselves on our backs by signing anything. If you want masks, invest in some surgical mask that you can use for yourselves and children. Someone made a few $$$$$ off this scam.

      Like 27
      • Hmmm says:

        And maybe the masks are just a front to ultimately protect the government from lawsuits, certainly not about protecting the people.

        Like 18
        • @Hmmm says:

          That is exactly what it is. It is to protect themselves, not the people.I am so glad this was exposed. But, they exposed themselves. How? All they had to do was give the masks and filters out to anyone who wants one. They F**k** up when they decide to make people sign a non-liability letter.

          Like 17
  4. Quick question says:

    So if they are not for children under 10, do you have a answer or solution as to how the children under 10 will be protected? I have a 9 year old and we live in the West. Please explain your answer to my question. Yours truly, A concerned parent.

    Like 24
    • CW says:


      Why are you asking in the comments section of an online article??


      Like 2
      Dislike 4
  5. Wise up says:

    Don’t quite understand are we suppose to go around all day and night wearing these mask?I also understand government want s to help but is this the problem solver and by giving us this when is the incinerator going to be under 10 cannot use the mask so what are the suppose to do?just inhale OMG.

    Like 12
  6. ???? says:

    Mr.Chief Environmental Health Officer, your John Hancock means nothing to me.How dare you expect people to sign non liability letters for bandaids. ???.

    Like 25
    • Does says:


  7. Shorty says:

    All individuals who live in the western end of the island that are directly affected by the opening burning your health matters. It is high time individuals form an action group write a letter and gather petitions to the Governor and the Foreign office. This matter of open burning has been going on since Noah built the ark and it is only getting worse. The BVI government past and present have wasted enough money on things that are not a priority while ignoring the health of its citizens. Stop entertaining the government with these masks and show them who is their real boss the people of this territory. Take your pictures, take your videos, present all your evidence and mech it to the Governors office let him, foreign office and the UK know enough is enough.

    Like 35
    • Soo says:

      I quite agreed with the comment from Shorty. I live on the North Western
      Side of the Island and is being affected from last year with the Cox Heath burning and presently the Pockwood Pond burning. I felt that present everyone from Pockwood Pond, West End, Long Bay and beyond have or is suffering from some sort of health issues from the smoke.
      The damage is already done. These mask are useless at this late stage.
      I think that the Government should have an emergency health testing on us individually because pretty soon
      there is going to be a serious outbreak.

  8. Way to far says:

    Straight up b*ll sh*t.. Yall getting ridiculous with everything….

    Like 14
  9. LOL says:


    Like 16
  10. vip heckler says:

    I want to see a picture with the premier and his bodyguards with their masks on

    Like 24
  11. vip heckler says:

    Carvin get up off your tail part and get the bloody thing fix from here making money off fart

    Like 25
  12. Tears says:

    Oh my,do you people think people is that dumb? Not only do they want people to sign non-liability clause for the mask, they don’t even have the decency to give the people extra filters with the masks. You have to go to them when the filters need to be change. Those non-liability forms is to protect the Government,not the people that is suffering. People, please don’t let them hold you hostage like that. This is so F***ing sad,unbelievable and sad. I don’t live in the West but my heart goes out to the people in the West.Have some type of mercy for your fellow men,the elderly and the children living in that area. They are suffering and you want them to add to the suffering by signing non-liability forms? All of you need to be locked the F**k up or sentenced to live in the middle of the smoke and toxins for a couple of weeks. Maybe the smell of the smoke and toxins will force you stuck behind the JackA**es behind nincompoops to figure out how to correct the problem.Set of inexperienced fools in suit and tie sitting behind a desk getting paid for stupidity/being just stupid.

    Like 18
  13. Don't Sign says:

    The Government is protecting themselves not the people. You sign the non-liability letter, you are throwing yourselves to a Den of Wolves.

    Like 18

    Buy your own mask people…don’t sign away your rights because this is a developing class action lawsuit…the Government has the power to rectify this matter…they waste $7M on a plane that never fly and $40M overspending on a Pier park..they could have found money to fix the garbage disposal long time but it was never a priority….the rate of cancer is this territory is TOO HIGH… and there must be a reason for it…I’m not saying the pockwood pond problem is the reason…but the pockwood pond is a lawsuit waiting to happen and BVI people are no longer sitting on their rights

    Like 19
    • Yep says:

      Big million dollar lawsuits is going to jump off soon. The Government knows this, that is why they want you to sign that piece of crap paper they type. Don’t sign or accept their masks. Purchase surgical masks for you and your children. See, if a law suit pops off, everyone in the West that is affected by the smoke and toxins is going to be compensated.Don’t let the Government take this away from you.They are now paying millions in lawsuits to victims and their families who was affected by the toxins in the air after the World Trade Center went down.

      Like 10
  15. lol says:

    vip producing another set of maskman

  16. What!!! says:

    TOTAL B.S. fix the da** problem and get the scrubber installed Who walking around their house and sleeping in those dumb a** masks???

    Like 14
  17. OZYMANDIAS says:

    DON’T SIGN CHIT! If mask don’t work for you somebody OTHER THAN YOU GOT TO PAY.

  18. Proceed with Caution says:

    Do not sign any non-liability anything. I contacted a Attorney that I had done some work for me and his advise to me was not to sign.

  19. Ken says:

    Wow, let’s put the mask on so they can continue burning the trash that emits toxic fumes! Sure that makes sense! /Not! How about resolving the larger problem faster? Fix the burn site with better equipment! There are places in China that are burning toxic wast and producing totally clean exhaust! Do your research BVI and resolve the initial problem! Don’t waste years standing around…

    Like 10
  20. Stop all the nonsense says:

    50$ a mask! Advertised for 25$ Plus spare filters.
    Wonder who getting the other 20k$$ ??

    Like 10
    • @stop all the nonsense says:

      Please don’t make my PTSD click in. See, I am ready to attack one of those***er F***ers for real behind this.

      Like 12
  21. Mark says:

    I hope they do not come with if they don’t sign it you can not sue.

  22. SMH says:

    This must be a joke! Really! People’s lives are at risk and this is a resolution to the problem.Come on Ministers and PSs, this should have never left the Desk. It is preposterous!

  23. OUTRAGE says:

    This is an outrage and the Premier lives WEST. Sure expected better from him .

  24. Just Saying says:

    How these 400 masks come up to $20,000 when I just find the same exact mask on amazon for $33.13 for the S/M and $27.99 for the M/L? So the government spent $50 for each mask? They paid approximately $20 extra for shipping and customs? Couldn’t they negotiate a deal with company since they were buying in bulk? Thanks for the masks but I’m sure there were ways they could have saved some money to fix the actual source of the problem. And then on top of that you want me to sign away my rights to hold you liable in the event I become seriously ill after breathing that air for months? No thanks.

    Like 19
    • I says:

      pay this, you pay me that. The blank check syndrome?

    • Exactly says:

      I also went on Amazon and found the saw the same thing. I am glad to see that they told on themselves this time. They try to be slick and hoodwinked the people to sign away their rights for a $50.00 mask to cover their A**es.

      Like 14
  25. fix the problem! says:

    Why not just stop the fire one time?
    And fix it so it doesn’t happen again?

    Mask won’t solve the health problems.

    Like 15
  26. Father Time says:

    I really hope non of my fellow west end residents are signing that bullshit.

    Like 12
  27. smh says:

    So this is the Governments answer to the problem.

  28. LIT says:

    Temporary???? Why the hell in the BVI everyone does things half ass????
    If you can have the dam fires burning uncontrollably for weeks, months, then a permanent solution needs to be put in place. People are probably already affected by the dam smoke and look how long it take the GOV to provide a few masks to people. Further more, these people ga leave from west end, and come all the way into town for a mask? They aint ask for this and I think the GOV needs to go to the residence and hand these masks out to people. Frig wa the cost is, you aint going pay the dam hospital bill for the people you making sick, so spend money to irradicate this problem all together. I dont live West or PWP but I feel for the people living in these locations. God Bless Iyah!

  29. be nice! says:

    show love and compassion even towards a mental government.

    Like 20
    Dislike 1
  30. well my piece says:

    Is ayo vote for them. Lawd meh belly! It sweet! Go get your mask and shut up!

    Like 5
    Dislike 2
  31. Red Flags says:

    People started to become suspicious when they announce that you have to sign a Non-liability statement in order to get a Spiderman looking mask.The Government is doing this to protect themselves not the people.

  32. Non-liability for the mask only says:

    People the non-liability is for the use and operation of the mask only….not the toxic air problem. Isn’t that what the new article is saying????

    • Reply says:

      No. This is not rocket science here. What the government is saying is that we are giving you these mask to use, but should you not use them as per manufacturers recommendations, we are not responsible for anything that happens to you if you become ill secondary to your exposure to any toxic air.

      This is not about the mask only. It is about ones health relative to the use/misuse of those mask.

      The problems with this are:

      1. The science does not exist that these mask are 100% effective even if used around the clock which is impractical.

      2. Children, the most vulnerable, who are more likely to be outdoors playing, have no protection even if these masks were 100% effective, and

      3. It takes away peoples right to hold the government liable for any health consequences citizens may suffer in the future.

      No one should be placed in that position because know one knows what the future holds for the health as this problem continues.

  33. Soiled Son says:

    under VIP people die?

  34. Maggie says:

    For the twenty years I lived in West End toxic burning was happening. Didn’t St. John threaten to sue at one time as the smoke drifts over there?
    I think if people wore their masks around the cruise ship area the government might do something. It certainly needs a massive demonstration of some sort.
    ‘Muckraking’ journalism is exactly what you need from the British press but I recommend contacting either the Guardian or the Independant for good researchers and brilliant writing.
    I would hope the BVI government would finally take action if it got out that West End is becoming just another ‘cancer alley’ as in the US.

  35. Ok says:

    The whole Island is affected by the smoke and toxins East to West. Everyone is breathing the toxins. Don’t think that if you don’t live down West that you are immune from this.

  36. People says:

    If you want to wear a mask,go and purchase your own surgical mask for you and your children under the age of 10. Protect yourselves just like the Government is protecting themselves by asking us to sign a non-liability clause. No thanks.Amazon is not asking me to sign non-liability for the surgical mask I order for me and my family.

  37. Managing director says:

    Once again recycling being avoided and short sighted, temporary suggestions turned into a desperate reality.
    Find out the only true response that is viable and responsible. These actions are totally irresponsible if not considered from it’s source…futile in achieving any environmental goals.leaving the baby to wear a mask? Leaving our precious jewels (elderly) to wear masks? Where is recycling from a local perspective? Who will support a local responsible notion???

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