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Roban: residents enduring an ‘abomination’ over soot fallouts

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A soot-stained roof at a residence across from Belco (File photograph)

Pembroke residents are enduring an “abomination” from a rain of soot from the Belco power plant, the home affairs minister stated, calling it “unacceptable” and “intolerable”.

Walter Roban added that an overhaul of clean-air regulations in this legislative year would be “tougher, the stance will be higher and there could be penalties attached with certain types of disruptive emissions”.

His remarks followed a broadside in Parliament this month by Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, and MP for the area that is bearing the brunt of the fallout from Belco.

Mr Roban said that residents were living with “stress, fear and anxiety”, adding: “They should not have to suffer any further — and it is coming from what is supposed to be a brand new plant.”

He added that the tougher regulations would come with changes to Belco’s licensing.

Mr Roban said he had no opinion on Mr Hayward’s call for financial compensation. Mr Hayward had suggested that affected residents should not have to pay their Belco bills.

“The energy sector is regulated and Government does not have the capacity legally to do that,” Mr Roban said.

“There may be remedies that these residents can get in other ways by working with the Regulatory Authority.”

Mr Roban warned: “This is a problem that Belco needs to fix.”

The utility has come under fire from the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition representing area residents and businesses fed up with having to get soot deposits cleaned off buildings.

At a Budget press conference, the minister also outlined changes in the ministry’s budget for the coming fiscal year, which includes $230,000 for the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences to reinstate its air monitoring, which was cut a year ago for budget reasons.

It supports independent monitoring of Belco as well as tracking traffic emissions and the impact of the Tynes Bay incinerator on air quality.

A new independent monitoring station near Belco will be also set up after a previous site had to be removed from private property.

Overall, the ministry’s budget has been reduced by 2 per cent.

Mr Roban said that was primarily a result of the Department of Consumer Affairs getting moved over to the purview of the Attorney-General.

To read the minister’s statement in full, click on the PDF under “Related Media”.

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Published February 24, 2023 at 12:50 pm (Updated March 07, 2023 at 8:01 am)

Roban: residents enduring an ‘abomination’ over soot fallouts

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