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VG residents frustrated with open waste burning problems

- Call for incinerator; Waste Management Manager supports idea
The stench and smoke that emanate from the extensive daily burning of solid waste on Virgin Gorda are frustrating residents there. Photo: Provided
Manager for the Waste Management Department Mr Greg R. Massicote says that the ideal situation would be for an incinerator plant on Virgin Gorda. Photo: Internet source
Manager for the Waste Management Department Mr Greg R. Massicote says that the ideal situation would be for an incinerator plant on Virgin Gorda. Photo: Internet source
One of the solutions the Department of Waste Management is exploring is the separating and barging of certain waste to the incinerator on Tortola. Photo: VINO/File
One of the solutions the Department of Waste Management is exploring is the separating and barging of certain waste to the incinerator on Tortola. Photo: VINO/File
VALLEY, Virgin Gorda, VI – “This government can find millions of dollars to put in the hands of contractors for projects that can cost much less and for things that are not as serious as safeguarding the health of its people. The government needs to be obligated to get an incinerator here on Virgin Gorda,” said a resident of the sister island of Virgin Gorda.

The situation, residents say, has gone from bad to worse in Virgin Gorda since the burning of garbage on the island has been telling on their health. The complaints are bitter and many said they feel the National Democratic Party (NDP) Government is turning a blind eye on their constant cries and pleas.

And, according to the Manager for the Department of Waste Management Mr Greg R. Massicote, “For right now we can’t get out of burning waste openly in Virgin Gorda.”

“Everyday it’s burning and the effects are being felt all the way down Valley from all the way up North Sound and this is not good. So many people coming down with strange sicknesses and respiratory conditions and this government isn't seeing it fit to get an incinerator or barge the garbage to Tortola’s incinerator. We are the forgotten, we not important to this territory here,” said an obviously distraught woman.

The complaints came for all angles, including taxi drivers. “I think it's God that does our steering some days when you got to pass through certain parts when you see they are burning. The smoke does be so thick you can’t even see the road many times. If it wasn’t for God this government may be in serious problems cause a serious accident will happen and mess up many tourists one of these day and then is when they will get the message.”

The taxi driver and others, who brought this situation to the attention of Virgin Islands News Online, said that apart from the health issues of residents some villas owners, especially at Mango Bay and other surrounding communities, are being disenfranchised.

“Look, most of the waste now coming from places like Mosquito Island. Tons of waste coming from especially there and they burning here and putting the other businesses out of customers because people booking villas and leaving before their time because of the effects of the smoke and nothing in that is fair,” said one man.

He argued that the government needs to have the owners of certain resorts barge their garbage to the incinerator on Tortola to ease the effect of the extended burning while they await the installing of an incinerator on the island.

Another said, “Look I driving on the road by Bregado Flax School and I can see the smoke up in the air. I can smell it so strong; I call it the volcano, VG now got a volcano erupting every day.”

Contacted on these concerns, Mr Greg R. Massicote, the Manager of the Department of Waste Management, acknowledged that he has been in receipt of complaints about the situation and concerns of residents of Virgin Gorda. He said burning has been taking place every day for as long as he can recall but the situation now is that Virgin Gorda, as well as the smaller surrounding islands, is developing at a pace that the quantity of garbage that has been coming in over the past two to three years has increased tremendously.

“So obviously if you are burning more garbage you’ll get more smoke. So the problem is not that we are burning more frequently,” said Mr Massicote. He added that following the concerns received persons from the Department of Waste Management have visited the island and have been exploring possible short term solutions.

“We are in the process of finding short term solutions that we can possibly employ to offer as much as an immediate relief as possible. For now we are trying to identify that kind of waste that we may be able to separate to reduce the type of smoke.”

Massicote disclosed that there are two long-term solutions on the plate, with the installing of an incinerator on the island being identified as the ideal solution and the other being to transfer waste.

“The department is once again exploring both options; obviously everything would depend on finances.”

18 Responses to “VG residents frustrated with open waste burning problems”

  • .... (12/02/2015, 08:50) Like (9) Dislike (10) Reply
    Ndp has failed they must go
  • Joc (12/02/2015, 08:55) Like (11) Dislike (7) Reply
    I hear you vg residents because the always burning down the bay in Fat Hog's! It is so sickening I wonder if the Dr. Pickering dont smell that down the hill.
  • xxxxxxxx (12/02/2015, 08:59) Like (2) Dislike (7) Reply
    shame shmae shame
  • Inquiring Minds (12/02/2015, 09:10) Like (13) Dislike (14) Reply
    Look how long Raplh put this thing there and not a word out of them mouth.
    Suddenly it big news, I wonder what went wrong. Those people are so amaizing
    at times.

    It goes to show, it was a bad decision from day one, not one had the gaul to say
    so. Twenty five years later " Houston we got a problem" what a bunch of morrons.

    Thanks to VIP
    • @ Inquiring Minds (12/02/2015, 22:44) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
      This comment explains why the NDP would not be able to stay in office for another 4 years.
  • Real life (12/02/2015, 10:11) Like (5) Dislike (2) Reply
    Stop right now with the dumpsters from Moskito and all the billionaire construction sites. They polluting our island so theirs can be "green"? Government need to take action now for an incinerator on VG.
  • Not cool (12/02/2015, 10:14) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    Depending on the day especially when it have no wind blowing you can see the smoke falling down on mango bay area like fog. We should have a better way by now.
  • disappointed (12/02/2015, 10:14) Like (0) Dislike (1) Reply
    Obviously the NDP is not the answer.
  • ABC (12/02/2015, 10:27) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
    I agree, keep the garbage in Virgin Gorda, don't send it to Tortola as was recently proposed. The solution to this problem is simple. Take the eight million that Government intends to spend on this new hospital on that island and build an incinerator plant which will meet the needs of that island. The existing clinic and the million dollar boat ambulance which is now in operation between V.G and Tortola will ensure that patients will get to the hundred million dollar hospital which is yet to be completed.
  • Here's to a green VG (12/02/2015, 10:33) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    The Territory overall needs to modernize the waste management system. Virgin Gorda could prove to be an ideal laboratory for this. However, merely buying and operating an incinerator is not enough. We need a broader solution that should include waste segregation, recycling (along with some value recovery), concrete recycling (that could be used as aggregate or to make cinder blocks) as well as composting and mulching that could be used in agriculture or gardening. That in turn will require most people and institutions to agree to segregate their wastes that would be picked up on a regular basis. Alas, none of this will be free, and we as a people should be glad to support this effort to clean up and maintain our island clean by way of a reasonable monthly fee. After all most populated places in the world pay for garbage management. Most tourists are surprised to see that here we throw everything in a dumpster that someone else takes care of for free. It's not a very sustainable way to continue as the population grows.

    Secondly, IMHO, it is extraordinary that Necker Island disposes of their wastes (including yard waste) by putting it in trucks that are then barged to the Valley, and then driven up the hill where it is burned openly. Talk about carbon foot print for waste at that! One would think that Mr. Branson would want to take a leadership position in modernizing waste management practices by investing in a mulcher to use the resulting products on his islands. Besides that, being a more economic solution in the long run, it would also be good PR.
  • resident (12/02/2015, 10:36) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
    This individual burns in the Great Mountain area too (can't keep your windows open in peace)
  • Yes (12/02/2015, 12:03) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    So they only just now start burning garbage? What about when their rep was the Chief Minister/Premier years and years?
  • @ lol (12/02/2015, 14:42) Like (7) Dislike (0) Reply
    Keep blaming the vip when they were voted out 3 long years ndp will get what the duck ordered come next election
  • Liat 521 (12/02/2015, 15:13) Like (2) Dislike (0) Reply
    heard that Trindiad man still here sucking on the goverment after 10 years
  • greenandclean (12/02/2015, 18:21) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    First, in response to previous comments and as the company contracted to process Necker Island's recyclables, I would like to add a few facts to this conversation. Necker Island no longer ships their waste to VG for disposal. They do, however, ship their recyclables for processing at our facility. As is the case with any new system, some contamination has occurred & these materials (garbage) are being shipped to Tortola for the best disposal option available - the incinerator. They do have a mulcher and process their landscaping waste for use as mulch. Currently, we are working together to set up their composting program to further utilize their organic waste, as well as the use of leftover fruits & vegetables to feed their wildlife population. They are now operating their own incinerator and, it is both of our hopes, that with continued education & vigilance, contaminated materials will become a thing of the past. I commend the management & staff of Necker on taking these important steps to reduce their impact on the waste management system of the BVI & would like to note that they have supported and participated in recycling since the inception of our company (the first recycling opportunity in the BVI).

    Second, "Rome was not built in a day"! The notion that simply installing an incinerator will make VG a greener place is a mis-statement. Incineration is one of the least efficient methods of disposing of waste. Our burning dump will become a burning smokestack & it is likely that the emissions will still be less than desirable. In addition, we need to consider the fact that not all waste can be incinerated (glass being the perfect example). The Dept of Waste Management has been very supportive of our recycling venture, providing equipment (the recycling bins that some people use properly), providing limited collection from our school recycling programs, & is willing to assist, as they can, and as our facility continues to grow. Recycling equipment is very expensive, so how about we support green initiatives where we can. There are many persons & businesses that now deliver their own recyclables for processing & we are happy to accept these CLEAN, SORTED materials at our facility. Currently we are talking with local garbage collectors to assist with facilitating private collection from communities & businesses, hopefully, your neighborhood will be able to sign up soon. There is the one constant when discussing recycling with people here & that is "I'll recycle, but no, I'm not going to pay for it"... The actual process of recycling is not free, & considering transportation and other costs, it is likely it will not be in the immediate future. No where in the world is waste disposal a free process so why do we expect it here. It is time for all of us to participate & help divert government disposal budgets to better processing practices. It is not just big resorts & developments that have a fire burning day & night on top of the mountain, it is every one of us who drops a bag in the dumpster (& yes I do include myself - not everything is recyclable - yet). Every new system takes time to build & catch on, so it is time for people to step up & do their part to make VG the successful pilot program for waste disposal/recycling in the BVI. Should you have any questions regarding recycling here on VG, would like to participate, want to set up a new school program, or green your business place please feel to contact me at Green and Clean (VI) Ltd. 340-7996.
    • shaw (13/02/2015, 00:27) Like (1) Dislike (0) Reply
      thank you and good luck. I wish there were initiatives on Tortola like this. bugs me that simple gallon water bottles are not recycled. they would be the easiest.
    • jj (13/02/2015, 19:24) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      We keep talking about that's how it's done abroad but that's crap

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