Minister for Transportation, Works and Utilities, Hon. Kye Rymer pleaded with residents of the Territory to stop conducting backyard or control burning in their yards. In denouncing the practice Hon. Rymer said that these burnings seem to have increased in recent weeks.
The Minister while speaking at the 16 April sitting of the House of Assembly lent his voice to the pleadings of the BVI Fire and Rescue Services (BVIFRS), who for some time have been asking residents to end this practice. Hon. Rymer told the House that at this time of 24-hour curfew residents should especially avoid this dangerous activity which can result in damages. “Mr. Speaker, backyard burning, or controlled burning, is used by residents to disintegrate combustible materials by fire, to avoid having to haul it away. However, the indiscriminate practice of backyard burning has resulted in the loss of property, produce, forestry and livestock due to resulting bush fires. Other results include exposing residents to the deadly fumes emanating from these burnings,” Hon. Rymer announced.
In noting that BVIFRS’ pleas seem to be falling on deaf ears the Minister said, “The Chief Fire Officer continues to implore the general public to employ other methods of disposing of combustible material. Unfortunately, the instances of backyard burning seem to have increased during the recently implemented Territory-wide curfew as a result of COVID-19.”
This burning practice, Hon. Rymer, said is resulting in unhealthy smoke pollution causing serious health issues: “This makes the problem of smoke even greater, as the households have their full complement of persons, which means there are a larger number of persons that would inhale any resulting smoke. Therefore, I implore all to follow the waste collection procedures that were put in place by the Ministry of Health and Social Development.”
He also mentioned that this resulting smoke is a further nuisance to the residents of the Western End of Tortola who are already plagued by the Pockwood Pond waste disposal fires. “Though I am fully aware of the hardship the residents on the Western End of the island are faced with because of the long-standing issue at the Pockwood Pond incinerator I am very sympathetic with you but today I directly speak to those persons engaging in the practice of back yard burning,” Hon. Rymer added.