Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Marlon Penn announced that efforts are being made to quickly remedy the smoke and discomforting situation that is being caused by the incinerator. The complaint about fire and smoke at the Pockwood Pond dump has been increasing across the Territory with residents of the First District claiming that their health is being compromised by the ongoing situation.

In response to the constant call for an update on what the Government intends to do to fix this problem, Hon. Penn addressed the House of Assembly on 7 June. The Minister of Health told the House that conversations relating to sourcing the parts needed to fix the incinerator is ongoing.

Hon. Penn said, “My team and I spoke with the President of Consutech Systems on the 23rd of May and emphasized the importance of expediting the delivery of these critical items.  It is important to bear in mind, however, that the process of fabricating, shipping, and installing the new parts will take several months; particularly in light of disruptions in the supply chain affecting key components.”

“The Ministry of Health and Social Development is in the process of procuring the necessary replacement parts from the equipment manufacturer, Consutech Systems LLC. The company had already been contracted to supply a replacement Quench Tank and Ash Conveyor, along with a Heat Exchanger and three (3) Transfer Rams; all of which would be required to bring the Incinerator back online.  Additionally, we are taking the necessary steps to purchase a factory replacement control panel, which is another critical piece of equipment,” he added.

In the interim Hon. Penn called on residents to implement recycling activities. The Minister of Health told the House of Assembly that waste management activities should be regularly employed by each household.

He said, “This can be achieved through simple changes to our lifestyles such as using reusable bottles or cups, or by making use of reusable bags or boxes when grocery shopping.  Residents on Tortola, especially, are encouraged to separate glass, aluminum cans, and plastics from their household waste and utilize the “We Recycle” bins that are located throughout the island.”

“Among other health and environmental benefits, reducing waste will help minimize pressure being placed on the dumpsite, and ultimately help reduce the occurrence of fires,” the Minister added.

The situation regarding the Incinerator has been ongoing for years. Back in February former Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Carvin Malone implored the residents of the First District who are most affected by the fire and smoke of the problematic dumpsite to please have a little more patience as a remedy is being prepared.

Nevertheless, this appalling situation has become chronic for many years; promises are made but facts are non-existent.

At the time Hon. Malone was addressing residents at a community meeting on 29 January in the First District. He told the First District residents that Government was creating a new incinerator to alleviate the issues reported repeatedly about the Pockwood Pond dumpsite and incinerator. He stated: “The people of the First District would not forgive me if I don’t let them know that we are designing a new incinerator for Pockwood Pond so that we can rid ourselves of the nuisance of this smoke. The money has been provided.”

Over the years, fire has frequently spread at the Pockwood Pond incinerator and dumpsite much to the sadness and inconvenience of residents on the Western End of the Territory.

In fact, the flames and smoke that often belch from the dumpsite in the First District has been a complaint for decades. The situation has even attracted complaints from St John Virgin Islands as residents in the past on that US Island have complained that the smoke wafts across. That was before 2010.

In the past, the situation required firefighters intervention. It also became so bad that residents had to wear masks and use other protective means to cope with the fumes. However, things seemed tolerable over the last few months. This manageability of the situation was interrupted this week with another fire erupted at the site.