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Waste incinerator should be paused until proper regulations in place – campaigner

The site of a MediWaste incinerator plant, approved on industrially zoned land on Wallers Point Road in Southside (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An opponent of a medical waste incinerator in St David’s admits that nothing can stop its development — but has called for a pause in its construction until proper regulations are in place.

Russell Richardson, a member of the group Concerned Citizens of St David’s, who met the Premier recently, said he told David Burt that he accepted that it was impossible for the Government to pull permission granted for the MediWaste facility.

But, he said, he still wanted to see the construction of the plant paused “until such time as regulations are in place”.

Mr Richardson highlighted that the Ministry of Health has stated that there are “no regulations for storing and handling medical waste in Bermuda”.

Instead, as The Royal Gazette reported last month, the island has guidelines mirroring the protocols drawn up by the Bermuda Hospitals Board, which handled the destruction of biologically hazardous waste before MediWaste took over.

Mr Richardson said he was holding out for the incinerator, on industrially zoned land at Wallers Point Road, to be paused while comprehensive regulations were put in action.

He emphasised that he was speaking on his own rather than making a statement on behalf of the group.

“There need to be regulations for storage, transport and disposal — disposal of the ash as well,” the St David’s resident said. “We need a set of written regulations for the whole thing.”

He added: “Government has to start answering questions.”

A town hall meeting on the incinerator heard in November that the MediWaste plant would be monitored by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Mr Richardson said he had been part of a private meeting at the Cabinet Office between protesters and David Burt on December 2.

“I know it’s going to go ahead,” Mr Richardson told the Gazette on Wednesday.

“Once the Government gives permission to build, it’s going ahead — they would be sued if they were to say you can’t. I told the Premier the same.

“I also told the Premier there were guidelines in place, but no policy.”

The application to build the incinerator was approved in September by the Department of Planning, after officials ruled that the proposal was in keeping with an industrial park.

Mr Richardson’s comments came after Donte Hunt, the chief executive of MediWaste, said that the completion of the incinerator was expected for next month.

Medical waste is being stored short-term in shipping containers during the interim, with the high-tech plant set to burn through the backlog once it starts running.

The containers, which were relocated from Southside after campaigners spoke out, are allowed to be kept at the dump near LF Wade International Airport until the end of March.

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Published January 28, 2023 at 7:55 am (Updated January 28, 2023 at 7:55 am)

Waste incinerator should be paused until proper regulations in place – campaigner

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