Health and Social Development Minister Carvin Malone said last week that the new control panel for the Pockwood Pond incinerator is expected to be operational in eight to 12 weeks.
The incinerator has been non-functional since a Nov. 26 fire, and the trash landfilled on the mountainside behind it frequently catches fire, sending smoke as far as St. John and St. Thomas.
Mr. Malone told the House of Assembly last week that government would undertake efforts to address the spontaneous combustion and smoke that affects nearby residents, including distributing filtered masks and installing air quality monitoring stations.
He said that government has paid deposits to Skelton Electricals and the Virginia-based company Consutech Systems LLC, and that “both contracts have commenced.”
Both the current and former governments have promised to repair the facility using a replacement control panel from Consutech.
In April Cabinet waived the competitive tender process for the purchase of the panel and for the procurement of electrical services in order to quickly award a $161,300 contract to Consutech and a $192,153.60 contract to Skelton Electricals, respectively.
Mr. Malone also said that “electrical works are being conducted” in addition to the control panel being assembled.
He did not mention the pollution-control scrubber that government officials have been promising to install for more than a decade.
Government signed a $1 million contract with Consutech in 2015 to create the scrubber and has already paid the company a $500,000 deposit, but the device, which would remove harmful particulates and gaseous pollutants from emissions, has not been delivered.
Assistant Manager at the Department of Waste Management Neville Allen said he wasn’t sure how far along the process of acquiring the scrubber is, but that it would not arrive before the plant starts up again.
The EHD, Mr. Malone said in his statement, has 400 filtered masks that residents in the vicinity of the incinerator can pick up from the agency’s office next to the Red Cross building in Johns Hole.
Department staff are available to demonstrate proper usage of the masks.
He added that he hopes to obtain enough masks to distribute to residents of Virgin Gorda and other affected areas as well.
The department will also install four air-quality-monitoring stations in the communities around Pockwood Pond “so as to advise residents of the corrective actions that would be deemed necessary in the event of the disturbances caused by the fires and smoke,” according to the minister.
Mr. Malone went on to say that the HSD Ministry is initiating requests for proposals for the specifications, sourcing and pricing for additional firefighting and landfill equipment.
He also encouraged residents to “reduce, reuse and recycle” and acknowledged the efforts of “agents, companies and individuals” to implement recycling measures.
“Again we would invite tenders for sourcing, pricing and installation of whatever form of equipment necessary to minimise the volume that will go into the incinerator and as a result the treated waste that would actually result,” he concluded.