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Public to be consulted on asbestos plan

Public consultation on a $4.9 million project to get rid of asbestos will take place in the coming financial year, according to Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess.

He told the House of Assembly a Canadian consulting company was commissioned to perform a review of asbestos disposal options for the Island.

“The review included consideration of overseas shipment, treatment in Bermuda, landfill in Bermuda, offshore deep sea disposal and encapsulation in place,” said the Public Works Minister during debate on his Ministry's budget for 2011-12.

“The preferred disposal option is burial of the asbestos containing material in a marine fill as part of a required airport improvement project.”

The idea was shared with environmental groups in June and the feedback was good, he said.

“Encouraged by the response from this presentation, the Ministry has asked the consultant to prepare a proposal that will provide for an environmental impact statement, design and tender package for the disposal works,” said the Minister.

“The public will be consulted before a final disposal method is selected. It is anticipated that the public consultation, engineering design and the start of implementation will take place in the upcoming fiscal year.”

He said $1.2 million of the budget had already been spent on the scheme.

Shadow Public Works Minister Patricia Gordon-Pamplin asked for more details about the marine fill.

She said she was curious because former UBP Premier Pamela Gordon, who is her sister, proposed a similar scheme when she was Environment Minister and the PLP opposed it.

“The things that have been most egregious for the Opposition now become the crowning glory for the Government,” said the UBP politician.

Health Minister Zane DeSilva said, on a point of order, it was Greenpeace and not the PLP who objected.

The Island Construction boss said: “At that particular time, my company was doing that particular contract.”

Mrs Gordon-Pamplin said Greenpeace was supported by the PLP, which was then the official Opposition.

Mr Burgess said the UBP proposal would have involved the asbestos being taken out to sea and buried in deep sea water. “What's recommended now is encapsulation, not out at sea. There's a big difference.”

Mrs Gordon-Pamplin, who told MPs she was an asbestos abatement supervisor, said she hoped Government would consider various options, including converting the asbestos into a glass-type product.

“It has been most successful in the United States,” she added.

Mr DeSilva said the UBP generated most of the asbestos.

The latest plan, he added, could finally see an end to the asbestos accumulation at the Government quarry and Southside. “Hopefully, it will rid us of that problem forever.”

Photo by Chloe Brookes Minister of Works and Engineering the hon. Derrick Burgess JP MP updates the press yesterday about initiatives affecting the supply of potable water.

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Published March 14, 2011 at 10:00 am (Updated March 14, 2011 at 10:01 am)

Public to be consulted on asbestos plan

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