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BCAC: residents near Belco stacks must be consulted

Resident have complained of spill out from Belco, which has left roofs and property covered in rust and soot (File photograph)

A pressure group set up to ensure emissions from Belco are controlled has welcomed the mention given in the Throne Speech to clean-air law amendments being implemented during this parliamentary session.

A spokeswoman for the Bermuda Clean Air Coalition said the group was “proud” to see that the Clean Air Bill was being dealt with.

Amendments to the Clean Air Act will update and introduce new measures to address air-quality standards that align with Britain and the European Union, based on the latest health and safety data on the exposure of air contaminants to humans.

The spokeswoman said: “We hope that the Government's desire to align Bermuda’s Bill with international norms reflects the fact that there is an industrial plant in the middle of a densely populated area, meaning that those international norms may need to be made more stringent for our island.

“We also have an expectation that public consultation about the Bill will include an in-depth conversation with residents in the immediate area of the plant and will be an ongoing collaborative engagement around changes to the Clean Air Bill that will improve the livelihoods of residents in the area as well as those attending the many schools in the area and those working in the City of Hamilton.”

A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said that the Clean Air Act amendments were “very technical” and being carefully designed to meet the public's needs.

He said: “The drafting process is being informed by expert advice and will ensure that the amendments best align with Bermuda’s air-quality limit values.

“Once drafting is complete, a fulsome consultative process will follow, with the draft Bill published for the general public to review. During this period, the minister will announce time frames and clearly describe the changes."

Residents, businesses and schools surrounding the plant have been blighted by soot fallout, most notably since the commissioning of the North Power Station in 2020.

In addition to the soot, there have been detections of sulphur dioxide by air-monitoring stations in the area as well as oil fumes from a Belco facility on St John’s Road, Pembroke.

The BCAC maintains that it is not only area residents who are affected but also properties much further afield depending on wind strength and direction.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Home Affairs said in March that when Bermuda amended its statutory Clean Air Regulations 1993 to align with the EU/UK Air Quality Objectives, it would “effectively have more stringent air-quality standards, ie, limit values, than the UK – not equivalent”.

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Published November 08, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated November 08, 2023 at 7:34 am)

BCAC: residents near Belco stacks must be consulted

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