Officials from the Barbados Fire Service and the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) are reporting significant progress in averting a potentially disastrous situation unfolding at the B’s Recycling Centre.
Minister of Home Affairs Wilfred Abrahams is however insisting that the facility remain closed until further notice as he downgraded the site from a “potential disaster”.
During a press conference on Friday at the Cane Garden, St. Thomas facility, Minister Abrahams revealed that 4,552,722.084 pounds of metal had been removed since April 27th, when officials started moving tonnes of “white waste” to the metal disposal facility at Bagatelle, St Thomas.
In April, officials from the Ministry of Health and Wellness ordered Paul Bynoe, the owner of B’s, to close the facility and gave him 21 days to reduce the volume of discarded material to an acceptable level. Chief Fire Officer Errol Maynard later expressed concern that the conditions at the site could result in a fire, which his officers could not control.
At the end of the first phase on May 8th, approximately 3.58 million pounds of waste were removed from the site that included old cars and heavy metals forcing a temporary pause for the items to be separated. By June 1st, the movement of white waste and over 350 discarded vehicles had been placed in containers for shipment.
“I have to say that during this operation, the operator of the site, Mr. Bynoe has been entirely cooperative with the Fire Service and the Sanitation Service Authority in trying to get this project through to completion. I am satisfied, having spoken with the chief, that significant progress has been made to date,” said Minister Abrahams.
“So it has gone from being a potential disaster to being an unsafe situation that we can perhaps work with if something were to happen, but we need to get it to the point of being a safe situation. A lot more still needs to be done.
“At the appropriate time, the government, in conjunction with the SSA, the Ministry of Health will address all of those other questions, but for now, the facility remains closed as we try to get it under control to the satisfaction of both the Chief Fire Officer and the Minister of Health,” he added.
Officer Maynard revealed that in the early stages of the clean-up, the situation was so sensitive that a Fire Service outpost had to be established just outside to respond to any eventuality. He however pointed out that up to this point, there were no immediate signs of spontaneous combustion.
Engineering Manager at the SSA Leona Deane revealed that although the Bagatelle facility is now contending with over 10 to 20 times the activity to which it is accustomed, it is being dealt with appropriately.
“We still have a lot of years at Bagatelle, and I want the residents in the surrounding areas not to be concerned because we are covering and compacting and when we are done, normally it looks like a football field. You would never know that the metal is there. This is something that has been going on for 40 years so this is something that we are used to,” Deane assured.
Breaking his silence for a moment, Bynoe thanked the minister, the SSA and the Fire Service for their engagement on the project.
“I know for sure that God will soften somebody’s heart and we will be alright. That is all I have to say,” he added.
Officials said they had not determined whether the site could be reopened within the next year.
In fact, Minister Abrahams revealed that he had visited all of the country’s landfills and would continue to closely monitor their management.
He also warned members of the public against dumping metals outside of B’s recycling before it re-opens.
“If you go outside to the gate and look, you would see remnants of a stove, a fridge or something. That is an offence. The site is officially closed until further notice, so anyone who drops anything in front of the gate is in fact littering. I just want to make that very clear,” he concluded.