STATEMENT BY MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
HONOURABLE CARVIN MALONE
WASTE MANAGEMENT STRATEGY UPDATE
MONDAY, 24TH JUNE 2019
Fellow residents of the Virgin Islands, for too long we have been faced with the challenges of improper and inefficient waste management strategies. It is now a subject that must be addressed and solved.
To add to the complexity, you will be aware that there was a major fire at the Pockwood Pond facility on November 26, 2018. This fire resulted in the destruction of the control panel and electrical wirings and fittings of the incinerator.
Management of the site to accommodate the collection of territory wide waste required a more elaborate land fill operation comprising all incoming waste. The inclusion of combustible products, which would otherwise have been incinerated, to the land fill have inadvertently resulted in spontaneous fires. The flames, smoke and fumes from these fires have caused undue stress, discomfort and health concerns, not only to the employees at the facility but also to the residents in the immediate vicinity and further westwards.
Immediate steps being taken and envisaged to having this situation addressed for the proper functioning of the plant and reduction of distress to all residents and visitors include:
- Finalization of the contract for the purchase and certification of the installation of the control panel by Consutech Systems, LLC, (the plant manufacturers) by October of 2019.
- Issuance of electrical contract for the installation of the control panel and the comprehensive rewiring of the plant.
- Contract or engagement of additional personnel to coordinate the landfill operations to ensure proper placement and efficient covering of waste to reduce the occurrence of spontaneous combustion.
- Purchase and distribution to residents affected of C95 units or comparable carbon filter mask to minimize the inhalation of fumes and other possible pollutants.
- Institute advance monitoring of air quality in chronically affected areas with the aim of informing residents of different levels of alertness.
It must be emphasized that as we take immediate steps to correct the emergency situation, the vexing and broader issue of Sustainable Integrated Solid Waste Management can no longer be kicked down the road KICKED-DOWN-THE-ROAD. It must be addressed with the power of now.
Government had engaged and has retained the consultancy services of the Agency for Resilience, Empowerment & Development for the formulation of short, medium and long term initiatives pertaining to:
- Legislation, regulations and policies
- Organisation restructure, and
- Infrastructure development.
It is imperative that as a territory each of us must fully embrace the concepts of REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE.
New legislations will seek to reduce the importation of environmentally damaging materials and products by placing bans on Styrofoam and single use plastics.
Residents must be encouraged to reuse materials and products such as food and drink containers as opposed to single use items.
Through the process of recycle waste materials will be transformed into valuable products for effective and efficient usage.
With all measurers in place it is calculated that the territory would be able to reduce the production of waste materials by some 80 percent from its current level of 1,200 tons daily. We will seek to complete the waste management study that has been empowered and we will be reporting to you in very short order. I thank you for listening.