This article originally appeared in the Beacon’s print edition on Dec. 13.
More than two weeks after a large fire broke out at the Pockwood Pond incinerator, government officials have not released comprehensive information about the extent of the damage to the facility, when needed repairs will take place, or when the facility will be operable again.
Marlon Penn, the newly appointed health and social development minister, told the Beacon last week that technicians from the Virginia-based company Consutech Systems LLC had arrived over the previous weekend to conduct an assessment of the incinerator.
Mr. Penn said at the time that the central control panel of the incinerator was destroyed in the Nov. 26 fire, but was unsure when the final damage report would be completed or when the plant would be back up and running.
Mr. Penn, HSD Permanent Secretary Petrona Davies, and Department of Waste Management Manager Greg Massicote could not be reached for comment.
The most recent press release from the DWM was posted on Nov. 27, saying the fire was under control.
The most recent public statement from Mr. Penn on the issue was posted the following day. In the release, he instructed residents to use the dumpsite behind the incinerator, where incoming waste will be landfilled — though garbage fires have sprung up within that dumpsite multiple times in the past year alone.
Explosion and fire
The incinerator facility caught fire around 3 p.m. Nov. 26 after a small gas tank exploded nearby, Mr. Massicote and other officials confirmed that week.
Fire officers were on the scene for about two days, and had completely extinguished the fire by the night of Nov. 29, Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean said.
In recent months, DWM and the VI Fire and Rescue Service have had to cope with multiple trash fires across at least three different islands, including one in Pockwood Pond in August.
Mr. Massicote has told the Beacon that the department is “overwhelmed” with the amount of waste coming in since Hurricane Irma.