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‘Stop backyard burning’- CEHO- Lionel E. Michael

- This comes while the Government themselves via the Waste Management Authority reportedly engages in open burning
The Environmental Health Division is appealing to residents to refrain from backyard burning because of the environmental and personal health impact on the community. Photo: GIS
The landfill fire at Pockwood Pond, Tortola on January 16, 2018. Photo: VINO/File
The landfill fire at Pockwood Pond, Tortola on January 16, 2018. Photo: VINO/File
Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr Lionel E. Michael has put the brakes on backyard burning of hurricane debris. Photo: GIS
Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr Lionel E. Michael has put the brakes on backyard burning of hurricane debris. Photo: GIS
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- It seems like conflicting information is coming out from Government authorities on the issue of open burning. Weeks following the destructive hurricanes, Irma and Maria, on September 6 and 21, 2017 respectively, government though the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) had told residents that if they must burn their hurricane debris they should do so at community designated burning locations.

This was even as the Environmental Health Division was advising the public that burning of waste was not recommended as it could cause serious respiratory complications.

“However, if the solid waste collection system has not been regularised in your community and there is a large accumulation of waste, and you must burn, burn at community designated burning locations,” the NEOC had stated on Wednesday September 27, 2018.

However, earlier this week, Chief Environmental Health Officer Mr Lionel E. Michael put the brakes on this action.

In a Government Information Service (GIS) statement on February 21, 2018, he appealed to residents to “refrain from backyard burning because of the environmental and personal health impact on the community.”

Mr Michael said if the practice continues it will “affect young children, the elderly, asthmatics and persons with compromised immune systems.”

Stop the open burning- Lionel E. Michael

In backing up his decision to ask the public to stop backyard burning of trash, the new environmental boss told government “Backyard burning is also harmful to the environment and a potential fire hazard.”

Mr Michael further stated that proper disposal of waste is a matter of health importance. “It helps to improve aesthetics and reduces pests’ infestation; however, we are asking the community to avoid burning and to dispose of their waste in a safe public health manner,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Waste Management Department, a government agency, has said it does not engage in open burning, however, a fire at one of its landfill sites at Pockwood Pond, Tortola, recently caused much alarm on St Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands, as the smoke was said to be reaching both St John and St Thomas.

Manager of Solid Waste Department, Mr Greg R. Massicote, had said then that the fire may have started with combustible materials exposed at the dump site that was created after the incinerator was affected by shortage of power after the hurricanes in September 2017 and then just around Christmas eve when the backup generator for the incinerator developed problems.

There are also reports that the Department engages in open burning on Virgin Gorda.

The role of Environmental Health Division

According to a government spokeswoman, Natasha Lettsome, in the same press release, she said “The Environmental Health Division is committed to ensuring that all aspects of the environment with the potential to negatively impact health are managed efficiently to enable all persons in the BVI to attain and maintain optimal health and social well-being.”

Meanwhile, Mr Massicote could not be reached for a comment up to publication time.

16 Responses to “‘Stop backyard burning’- CEHO- Lionel E. Michael”

  • HMMM (24/02/2018, 21:42) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    leh ronny set ah example
  • Not2Sure (25/02/2018, 01:19) Like (10) Dislike (0) Reply
    Typical of this gang, conflicting information
  • NezRez (25/02/2018, 01:32) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    I am contantly cleaning my yard since the hurricanes caused so much destruction. My vehicle was destroyed so I place the broken furniture, wood and trees etc, that is burnable in one heep to burn or else I cannot get rid of it. I cannot take it to the dumpster because it is way too much, so what am I supposed to do? I only burn in a clear area in my yard and I watch it until it is only smoking. Where and how are people going to get rid of all this if we cannot burn. I live all the way east end and cannot get to any dump sites, now what? Just allow my yard to look terrible and with all this rain, weeds are growing very fast. I do not want high piles of garbage in my yard which will attract vermin.
  • just asking... (25/02/2018, 01:40) Like (8) Dislike (1) Reply
    Everything nowadays is about stopping something! what about starting to March against this corrupt government?
  • Sewage (25/02/2018, 07:56) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    How can I get in touch with Environmental Health?
  • watcher (25/02/2018, 08:35) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Burn baby burn
  • Love the Headline (25/02/2018, 09:16) Like (3) Dislike (15) Reply
    The burner is always happy to save cost, while neighbours and their elderly relatives and young children are subjected to hours of harmful fumes.
    government so silly it can't understand that backyard burning can create national health crisis. Fire department often let the pile burn out instead of putting it out on arrival and issuing a citation.
    What backwardness in a country! Smhhhh
  • @ @ @ @ (25/02/2018, 10:06) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    What about 2 marinas who always doing open burning? Go talk that
  • Josiahsbay (25/02/2018, 10:07) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    I live in east end and Pockwood is quite a distance away not too mention also a road hazard away. I asked a gentleman if I could bring my waste there(In the area behind the East End post office) and he replied no. He said they allowed dumping there as their contribution to helping out the community after the hurricane and now they are in the clean up phase. So I asked why they couldn't have a receiving area and an out going area for the waste. He intimidated that expense might be the issue. I don't know to what extinct government is helping but I do know that it need to be done. Government (district leaders) should have a backhoe and a 20yd dump truck go to those make shift dump site and remove the garbage and take it to the nearest dumping area until government can have it removed. If it means contracting with the land owners so be it, It'spart of the recovery effort anyway.Each district that is too far from the main dumping site should have a government authorised mini dumping area of for only non food waste items.

    Districts need more autonomy to self generate revenue to better facilitateself help anddistrict development.
  • i from here (25/02/2018, 10:50) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    He better study the BVI culture or like Myrun go back to Antigua as this has been going on for generations in the BVI
    • @ i from here (25/02/2018, 14:48) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
      Embarrassment to you . What to burn or not to burn has to do with culture.? To be truthful you sound plain stupid.
  • west (25/02/2018, 10:53) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    The NDP are a set of two faced hypocrites what about the open burning they are doing on farm lands next to the college
  • ?????? (25/02/2018, 10:55) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    Lionel are you for read? So when you going stop the gigantic toxic blaze at VG dump site that burns all night every god dam night?
  • Boo (25/02/2018, 23:10) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Robin: Flaming Flamingos Batman. I thought we could burn our rubbish on our private property!

    Batman: Obviously not, Robin...unless you are the Government. Then you can set a monstrous blaze at Pockwood Pond with impunity and blame it on "spontaneous combustion"

    Robin: What about Cox Heath?

    Batman: Don't know. It may soon also "spontaneously combust"
  • VG Dumpsite (26/02/2018, 16:40) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    What about that toxic blaze at VG dumpsite. Isn't that a health hazard?

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