The Ministry of the Environment and Drainage did respond to the March 25 and March 26 fire at B’s Recycling.
Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Dr. Denis Lowe, made this assertion while leading off debate in the House of Assembly today on the compulsory acquisition of 16 acres of land at Vaucluse, St. Thomas, at a cost of $523, 000. The land is needed by Government to facilitate expansion of the landfill for the disposal and management of waste.
Dr. Lowe pointed out that the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), which was one of the agencies under his portfolio, was among the first to arrive at the St. Thomas site.
He added that Government was not insensitive to the concerns of residents. "When the fire was reported the Ministry was contacted and the EPD was called. It was also reported to the Ministry of Home Affairs," he said, noting a comprehensive approach was taken to assess what was happening.
He added that his Ministry received a report on the fire from the EPD within 48 hours of it occurring, and said that he would seek to make that report a document of a House.
Dr. Lowe also gave residents living at Cane Garden and Bagatelle, St. Thomas the assurance that their concerns were being addressed and provisions were under way to resite all recycling companies to Vaucluse, St. Thomas.
"Very soon, the necessary paper work will be brought to this House [of Assembly] so that recyclers can be placed out of harm’s way," Dr. Lowe ??explained, adding that such companies played a vital role in Barbados’ solid waste management efforts.
He pointed out that B’s Recycling employed 107 persons and was responsible for collecting and exporting 38 per cent of the island’s waste. The Minister added that in 2012, the company exported 27, 540 tonnes of recyclable material, including glass, paper, boxes, cans, and old cars overseas.
"[At least] 1, 377 containers at 20 tonnes per container were shipped from Barbados. As a result….each tonne generated foreign exchange returns," he said, while cautioning that without companies such as B’s Recycling, Barbados would not be able to manage organic and metal waste effectively.
Dr. Lowe stressed that companies such as B’s Recycling were small businesses that not only generated foreign exchange, but also such intangible benefits as the management of the island’s solid waste.
He stressed that residents in affected areas had legitimate concerns and they would be addressed.