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Building of medical waste incinerator set to be completed ‘imminently’

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Equipment in place for the MediWaste incinerator plant, approved on industrially zoned land on Waller’s Point Road in Southside (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An incinerator plant for medical waste that sparked an outcry from St David’s residents is on track for completion next month.

Donte Hunt, chief executive of MediWaste, said the incinerator and its emission control system were on site at Southside and almost complete, with the housing structure soon to be built around the equipment.

Mr Hunt added that the incinerator, which will take over the disposal of all medical waste generated on the island, was on track for completion next month.

“We’re a couple of weeks late due to delays out of our control, which is natural with any construction project. Hopefully we can make up that time.

“We’ve had some great local contractors on board down there putting it up.”

He said medical waste stored in shipping containers at the airport dump, which has been put on notice by environmental officials for removal by the end of March, was set to be transferred in time for the incinerator to begin operations.

Equipment in place for the MediWaste incinerator plant, approved on industrially zoned land on Waller’s Point Road in Southside (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Mr Hunt said there had been “no communications with me personally or with my team” from the group Concerned Citizens of St David’s, which turned out in staunch opposition to the project last year.

“We have not been contacted directly,” he added.

Mr Hunt said that he had been originally invited to attend a town hall meeting with residents last November by Geoff Smith, a regulator with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The meeting came after the Department of Planning reviewed MediWaste’s proposal and gave it the green light to proceed.

Mr Hunt said that during the meeting with residents: “I went over the regulations and the due diligence done, our technology in terms of emissions being well under the UK’s standards”.

He added: “I did not foresee how it [the protest] would grow.”

Equipment in place for the MediWaste incinerator plant, approved on industrially zoned land on Waller’s Point Road in Southside (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Residents said in November and December that the plant’s approval by the Department of Planning had taken them by surprise, and petitioned to have it stopped.

Although the Ministry of Home Affairs stated that approval could not legally be reversed, the group met behind closed doors with David Burt, the Premier, on December 2.

A spokeswoman said yesterday that the talks had been private. “The meeting resulted in a productive discussion between the parties involved,” she added.

She said there was no further comment beyond Mr Burt’s remarks after the meeting, that he would discuss the group’s concerns with the Cabinet.

There has been little word from the campaign since – other than a statement on December 12 supporting Tinée Furbert, an area MP, who has backed protesters.

The statement also called for Mr Hunt and MediWaste to “sit down and talk to us and address our concerns”.

Yesterday, a source familiar with the group said Concerned Citizens remained active.

The group was also said to be aware of construction proceeding at the MediWaste site.

Attempts to reach other members of the group yesterday were unsuccessful.

Mr Hunt said he had received no communication from the Government about the project, beyond the firm’s regular contacts with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

“I’ve not heard from the Premier,” he said. “We communicate quite frequently with DENR going over regulations and fine-tuning things as it comes closer to commission.”

He said he hoped opponents “understand that we have done all that we had to do”.

According to Mr Hunt, the plant has acquired $20,000 worth of testing equipment

“We probably have more technology in terms of ensuring our emissions are safe and well below the numbers than, potentially, even Belco.

“Perhaps, that’s because we are a new kid on the block.”

Mr Hunt said the controversy that has dogged the power company over emissions from its North Power Station had likely led to the town hall meeting in St David’s to explain the project to residents.

“I think it was on the back of the challenges that we have seen with Belco that Geoff was keen to ensure that we did everything we could.”

Mr Hunt said the construction had been delayed for about two weeks by factors including bad weather – but that the manufacturers had visited the island to review the work and would soon be visiting the site again.

Medical waste, which covers anything from discarded rubber gloves to body parts, pharmaceuticals and sharp items, was previously destroyed at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, with assistance from the Department of Health, which collected the waste from facilities ranging from dental offices to tattoo parlours.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board, which has stated that disposal was no longer appropriate for the hospital to carry out, signed a ten-year contract with MediWaste valued at $7.4 million and effective until November 2031.

Residents were told at the town hall meeting that the waste would be destroyed at far higher temperatures than conventional incinerators.

On that occasion, Mr Hunt said the plant would not release odours, with emissions no greater than “a bike driving past you”.

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Published January 25, 2023 at 8:03 am (Updated January 25, 2023 at 8:03 am)

Building of medical waste incinerator set to be completed ‘imminently’

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