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Belco to shut offending smokestacks

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Ageing smokestacks at the Belco power station that were blamed for pollution are to be shut down by the end of the year, the company revealed yesterday.

Belco said the decommissioning should cut down on discharges that have blighted the lives of neighbours of the massive Pembroke plant.

Dennis Pimentel, the Belco president, said the firm complied with environmental regulations including the Clean Air Act, as he moved to soothe health concerns among residents.

Mr Pimentel was speaking after homeowners upwind of the new North Power Station on St John's Road complained of a constant rain of orange matter coming from the complex of chimneys at the power company.

He said: “We believe we have just built our last fossil fuel plant. It's important for the public to know that's how we feel about it.

“We believe in a renewable energy future. Our prospective buyers, Algonquin, have a track record to make that a reality for Bermuda.”

Mr Pimentel added that he understood worries about the pollution, which had stained rooftops, but said it was “aesthetic” rather than a health problem.

He said: “The orange coloured stain is mainly iron particles. There is also a soot component — we have to acknowledge that.”

Mr Pimental explained that steel exhaust pipes in the power generators shed flakes of metal, which the company cleans off surrounding rooftops.

He added: “We have older, shorter stacks made of steel that are due to be retired, that are corroding and can cause dispersal.”

While the fallout of rust will not go away entirely, he said that the decommissioning of older equipment planned for October would cut down on the problem.

“In the future, with just two stacks, we should see that becoming less.

“The plan is for the old engines to be retired at the end of October this year.

“There's a demolition plan to remove the eastern most concrete stack and the old power station, which is all those short stacks you can see along Cemetery Road.

“It will no longer be running — it will take a few years to physically demolish them, once the Regulatory Authority gives the go-ahead, but we have the remit to decommission them and stop using it.”

Mr Pimentel said that not all the metal particles came from old equipment, and that the new North Power Station might also be to blame.

He added: “Because it's just been constructed, it will take time for what's called a patina in the exhaust system to develop.

“It's conceivable, but for sure it will become reduced.”

Angry residents took their complaints up with Jason Hayward, the area MP. Mr Pimentel said he had also met the minister to explain the reason for the orange stains.

Mr Pimental said: “We clearly take the health and safety of the community and our employees very seriously.”

The company has fixed air monitoring at two locations but said it planned to add a third mobile monitor in six months' time, which will be stationed around Langton Hill.

He added: “Belco is committed to working with environmental authorities, the Regulatory Authority and the Department of Energy to meet all requirements.

“We believe strongly in the aspirational targets of the integrated resource plan. We'll be poised, if we can close the transaction with Algonquin, to expedite that.

“We are well positioned to make us a jurisdiction that's a huge proponent of renewable energy.”

To report problems, e-mail ohse@belco.bm or call 299-2802

Dennis Pimentel, the Belco president

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Published August 06, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated August 06, 2020 at 1:11 pm)

Belco to shut offending smokestacks

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