BVI News

Still burning beneath | DWM awaiting funds to rid Cox Heath of lingering issue

June 2018 photo of smoke rising from various hot pockets at the Cox Heath dump. (Photo by: Esther Durand/BVI News)

By Esther Durand, BVI News Staff

More than nine months after the government declared that the major fire at Cox Heath was extinguished, the temporary dump site is, even now, still smouldering.

General Manager for the Department of Waste Management (DWM) Greg Massicotte told BVI News on Monday that they are now awaiting funds to address the issue.

“There is a misconception that money was paid to out the fire … But, basically, the bulk of the funds were for the pre-fire from January 1 to May 9 last year,” he said.

Massicotte further explained that some of the funds went to private companies who assisted in containing and extinguishing the flames.

“After the flames dissipated, their equipment was removed from the site, but you still have that underground fire/smoke that needs to be addressed. And it can only be extinguished by getting heavy equipment out there with extinguishers and pumps.”

He said if left as is, the smoke will continue for months.

Last November, government announced that more than $800,000 was allotted to the DWM to implement its medium-term debris clearance plan. Out of that amount, $336,500 was expected to go to Tortola Concrete Products for their work on the blaze and for four months of site maintenance.

Another $682,548 went to the DWM to procure new equipment to properly deliver and dispose of waste at the Pockwood Pond based-site.

Communities in western Tortola still affected

In the meantime, residents of the West End on Tortola is still being affected, Massicote said.

“It has been affecting them from day-one because the direction of the wind takes the smoke to the western area. So if you drive past Cox Heath, you will smell it.”

During the peak of the Cox Heath fire months ago, it was reported that more than 20 residents fled West End because of the smoke.

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  1. West side says:

    They paid Tortola concrete $300k plus and it still smoking
    Thing to talk


    Mr Premier, please could you prioritise the air pollution issues in West End. Even our neighbours in St John are crying out. You live in West End, surely you are aware of this issue. This a big, big, priority which needs to be addressed as soon as possible.

    To the RDA, this is a PRIORITY. The health of the nation is a priority. People are getting sick. People are unable to enjoy being at home because the smoke from Pockwood Pond dumpsite is an issue. Every single time you look up at the hill there are flames or there is smoke. How can this not be a priority?

    Like 41
  3. Reasonable Man says:

    I can’t think of anything more essentail for the government to get under control than this issue. We smell it for hours every day in West End. This is a serious health issue for the residents but imagine as well what a tourist would think of this? Would you come and stay in a place with this problem? No, you would go somewhere else.

    Like 14
  4. Just Ice says:

    Lets hope the VIP really is a metaphorical and physical Breath of fresh air to the BVI and in particular west end residents.
    The premier need to prioritise this issue which is sickening his constituents. The RDA need to find some money and tackle this important issue.How much will it actually cost to put out Coxheath? A Himac for a week and some pumps? How much will it cost to provide some recycling dumpster?
    Peanuts in the ge rand scheme of things..

  5. BS! says:

    I really hope that this statement “Another $682,548 went to the DWM to procure new equipment to properly deliver and dispose of waste at the Pockwood Pond based-site” doesn’t mean incineration. That is just as bad as land-fill. The BVI needs a joined-up waste management and recycling strategy. Plenty of forward-thinking people at Alkebulan Minds and Green VI who could put that sort of money to good use if given a chance.

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