Tinée Furbert: I saw ‘early stages’ of incinerator proposal
An MP campaigning to stop a medical waste incinerator in her constituency appeared to backtrack this week on earlier comments about when she first heard of the controversial facility.
Tinée Furbert, a minister and the government MP for St George’s South who has spoken out on behalf of residents opposed to the facility, initially did not comment when it emerged this week that she had chaired the Environmental Authority that reviewed the MediWaste incinerator more than two years ago.
In a statement yesterday, Ms Furbert acknowledged that the MediWaste proposal had been discussed by the EA – but said the questions posed by the authority in 2020 remained relevant.
But her comments appeared to run counter to remarks given to ZBM on November 2, directly after area residents vowed to oppose the placing of the incinerator in their area.
Ms Furbert told the broadcaster she had learnt of the project’s approval only after it got reported by The Royal Gazette in September – despite chairing a quango that approved the project two years ago
This week she acknowledged that she had seen “early stages” of the MediWaste incinerator proposal, which sparked a storm of protest in St David’s last month, during her tenure as chairwoman of the Environmental Authority in 2020.
MediWaste, contracted by Bermuda Hospitals Board to take over the island’s medical waste disposal, has “appropriately followed” all legal avenues this year to gain approval from the Department of Planning, according to David Burt.
Speaking last week after meeting with a group of protesters from St David’s, the Premier also said he would discuss the matter with Cabinet ministers.
Ms Furbert, the government MP for St George’s South where Southside is located, subsequently conceded that the incinerator plans had come before the Environmental Authority during her time as head of the organisation.
She told the Gazette this week: “In 2020, during my brief time as chairman of the Environmental Authority, the early stages of the MediWaste proposed business were discussed.
“A construction permit was approved by the authority subject to a number of conditions.“
Ms Furbert said the concerns raised by the EA in 2020 “mirror those raised recently – and like my constituents, I believe clear and reliable assurances should be forthcoming from MediWaste”.
She added: “Community understanding and support for any business is an essential element of success and in this close-knit community this is even more important.”
Donte Hunt, the chief executive of MediWaste, has kept silent in the aftermath of meetings with area residents organised by Ms Furbert in tandem with Lovitta Foggo, the government MP for the neighbouring constituency of St David’s.
The two have stood beside protesters, with Ms Furbert pledging to relay their concerns.
In her ZBM interview about the controversy last month, the MP, who is also Minister of Social Development and Seniors, was asked when she “first became aware” of plans for the facility.
Ms Furbert said: “I first became aware of this progression in an article in the RG as far as the approvals – constituents brought it to my attention.”
She added that it had been flagged up “back in September”.
“We have to remember, this is a private business. This is not anything that would come to Cabinet.”
St David’s protesters were taken aback by MediWaste getting the green light to build at Waller’s Point Road in St David’s – objecting that it had passed without notice on the Official Gazette.
In the interview, Ms Foggo said the company had gone by the law in its proposal, but that more visible public notice would have improved matters.
She added that “everyone needs to be vigilant” and “keep our fingers on the pulse”.
Ms Furbert said constituents needed a platform to air their concerns.
“I am their representative – they will do that through me and I will share their concerns, most definitely,” she said.
The Gazette has sent a query to the ministry asking for clarification.