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Complaints about ‘eyesore’ trash mountain

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Heap of trouble: blue bags full of garbage have been piling up for months at the Devon Springs Recycling Centre (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mounds of blue-bagged trash at the decaying Devon Springs Recycling Centre have grown into an “eyesore” for area residents.

The facility, closed down in 2007 and later damaged by storms and fire, “looks horrible” in the words of a Christopher’s Close resident, with recycled trash spreading out to the perimeter fence.

“It doesn’t smell but it has been piling up for months. It was clean for a while but they started dumping stuff up there — they just need to hurry up and do whatever they’ve got to do,” the man said, adding: “But leave it to Government.”

The mounting piles spilling behind the Devonshire facility, which adjoins the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Centre, have grown since the new Materials Recovery Facility at Quarry Road by Harrington Sound broke down last year.

The rusting warehouse, now containing derelict recycling equipment and drifts of broken glass, stands open to the elements, starting with extensive damage from a 2008 fire.

Hurricane Gonzalo in 2014 was the final push, residents said.

“It’s more of an eyesore than anything else, but you do get rats around it,” said a man socialising with others by the roadside in front of the facility.

A worker at the depot promised that the pile was temporary, and would be tackled before the advent of hotter weather, while a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Works last night told The Royal Gazette that the backlog would be trucked away starting next week.

She said that the MRF had been up and running for a week, and three containers of recyclables had been shipped out.

Once its bunkers were clear, the Devon Springs backlog would be removed over “the next few weeks”, while ministry staff were keeping litter away from the fence.

“It’s just been recently, over the last six months, that they’ve started really piling up,” said a member of staff at the nearby Barn where second-hand goods are sold.

“It’s unsightly and if it were my neighbourhood, I wouldn’t like it.”

Another area resident said the pile had either settled under its own weight or been moved within recent weeks.

Having lived there since 1989, she said recycled trash had piled up regularly even in the days when the plant was operational.

“It looks bad, but it’s not as bad as it was around here when the sewage plant wasn’t working,” she said, referring to the stench that plagued the area when the hospital’s sewage treatment facility was out of commission.

Stuart Hayward, the chairman of the Bermuda Environmental Sustainability Taskforce, called the situation “untenable” but acknowledged that the delay was caused by the MRF’s wait for repair parts.

“Having the pile so visible is a mixed blessing,” Mr Hayward added.

“It does more good than harm for us, the public, to occasionally be confronted face-to-face with a reminder of the extraordinary amount of waste we produce on this little island.

“The high visibility also adds to the pressure to have the recycling machine fixed and adequately maintained. Perhaps the greatest plus is the attention this situation brings to our recycling programme and how much room there is for improvement.

“In that sense, it’s good that people are noticing the problem and pushing for resolution.”

Mr Hayward said he hoped the accumulation would not dissuade the public from separating their recyclables for collection.

“We need all the encouragement we can get to do better at managing our waste — reducing, reusing, repairing and recycling,” he said.

Piling up: the heap of blue bags at the Devon Springs Recycling Centre (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Unsightly mess: piles of blue bags at the Devon Springs Recycling Centre (Photograph by Akil Simmons)