Environmental campaigners applaud community action
A pressure group set up to protest against pollution caused by power plant chimneys and machinery should be mirrored throughout the island, the leader of an environmental charity claimed.
Eugene Dean, the chairman of Greenrock, said that the organisation congratulated residents and business leaders who set up the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition.
He added that the group was "aimed at raising awareness about the grave implications caused by Belco’s stacks and machinery“.
Mr Dean said: “For years area residents have experienced challenges with pollution, water quality, health, property damage, etc … and have repeatedly made efforts to express their concerns.
“The formation of the BCAC represents the coming together of those residents, and the small interest groups they have formed, in an effort to consolidate their leadership and strengthen their representation.”
Mr Dean added: “Unity is strength and the example being set by the BCAC is something that needs to be replicated island-wide.
“To progress as a country, our communities need to rally together, join forces and strengthen the representation of our collective interests in order to bring about positive change.
“Short of taking tangible steps towards forging real unity, we, the populous, will continue to suffer the consequences associated with others putting their private or personal interests before ours.”
Mr Dean hailed the BCAC’s “fearless, passionate” leadership and said they are “capable of going toe to toe with the smartest, most intelligent and seasoned personalities around”.
But he added: “With that said, this will not be an easy ride for anyone if the BCAC finds resistance.
“Therefore, our advice to Belco and the relevant government departments, is to humbly submit to the process, be honest in their dealings with the BCAC, understand the sentiments expressed by concerned residents, and genuinely work with them to find the best possible solutions for all involved.”
Mr Dean acknowledged that finding a long-term solution to pollution issues is challenging due to Belco’s location next to a densely-populated area.
He said moving the plant, or relocating residents and businesses, are not realistic solutions.
The Greenrock chairman added: “Neither of those options appears to be plausible, which is why we have always advocated for renewable energy.
“Rather than treating symptoms, we need to address the issue at its root by investing in technologies that are far less polluting and use renewable resources for fuel.”
Mr Dean questioned what progress has been made in relation to the Regulatory Authority’s integrated resource plan that “sets clear targets for our transition to renewable energy”.
He said: “Although the Government has endorsed it and the community loves it, after two years, we are no closer to kicking our energy transition into gear.”
But he asked: “Is Belco the problem? Is our government at fault? Or are we, the people of Bermuda, responsible for allowing these issues to continue while tangible solutions are at hand?
“When making transitions leadership and strong representation is essential, and if it doesn’t come from our Government or the private sector, then maybe, just maybe, it needs to come from us.”
A Government spokesman said later that Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, took residents’ concerns “very seriously”.
He explained: “Notwithstanding the results of the air and water quality tests, it is simply unacceptable that the Belco engines are spewing sediment onto the roofs and property of residents, especially as this is the new station.
“As a result, Minister Roban has charged the Regulatory Authority and the Environmental Authority to obtain an independent consultant to assess the performance of the new engines and the ’exhausts’.
“This will provide the information for the Regulatory Authority and Environmental Authority to discuss with Belco to correct the current problem.”
*UPDATE: This article has been updated to include a comment from a Government spokesman.