Several residents of Burrell Boom Village, Belize District called a press brief this morning at the Radisson Fort George Hotel to voice their ongoing concerns over the presence of Bradley’s Boat Yard in their village. As we reported on May 5, 2017, a meeting was held with representatives from the boat yard, the village council and the Department of the Environment. That meeting was aimed at apprising the villagers of the plans of the boat yard but it quickly turned hostile.
“There was friction in the meeting because these engineers from Bradley’s Boat yard were not specifying certain things like the creek and the pond that are behind him and all those issues. When it rains it’s a problem, we live there so we know what we are living.”
“Okay to just give you a briefing of that meeting and how that went; first of all like I stated in my portion the village council does a very poor job of letting people be aware of what or when the village meeting was going to be held. Me and my wife just found out in that specific meeting who were the councilors and at that same day when they were going to have that meeting. Apart from that it was not stated to the villagers what side the village council was on hence when we wrote the letter to give to the village council thinking that it would have been a just meeting to say how we could get this plan across and how we could go about starting this zoning before Mr.Bradley’s boatyard has been relocated is the day we found out from one of the councilors Ms. Shareema Pinkard that they were taking Mr.Bradley’s side on a business aspect and we actually found out on that day. Now we have been told by Rural Development that we need the village councilors to actually push the issue of zoning. So with that being said the meeting did not go, it was a one sided kind of meeting because the village side was not going to be accepted to get their questions across and basically I had to be the one to go back and try to hustle everyone together to go and listen on their end for them to finish their presentation and basically it was decided where they didn’t want to hear anything from the villagers, they didn’t want any questions like oh we are giving your breaks to ask what you want to ask we were not provided that chance; the meeting was cut to an end.”
The concerns of the residents primarily have to do with the health implications that the use of fiberglass can have. Daren Stewart who has worked with fiberglass before was part of the panel and spoke on the hazards of the operations.
“I personally have worked fiberglass for seven years and I can tell you that one would go to any fiberglass dumpsite or even to the unfortunate damage of Mr.Bradley’s property in Burrell Boom you will find the remains of the fiberglass that no matter how much fire you put on it it will never disintegrate. Fiberglass is not biodegradable; fiberglass is going to be there forever. All you can do with fiberglass is bury it and hope that nobody digs it up again because it’s forever. When we worked with fiberglass in the past we all were trained to use protective gear and these gear goes from mask to skin protection and I would like to make it abundantly clear to the viewing public out there as well to understand that you may not have to be near to a fiberglass facility in order to be affected by it. When we are grinding fiberglass the dust is so light and small that the wind can take it four or five miles away from the facility. There are times when people are pinning out their laundry on their lines and they get back in their bed at night and want to know why they are not comfortable and why their bed is itchy, it’s because the fiberglass has flown from whatever distance it was and gotten on their bed sheet. When fiberglass gets into your lung, when you breath it in, it’s going to affect your nasal cavity and it’s going to affect your lung. It’s going to become cancerous because your body cannot break it down; it’s stays in there forever.”
Love News has tried contacting the Chief Environmental Officer, Martin Alegria but we have not been able to reach him. Last week, however, we did manage to speak to Area Representative, Edmond Castro who told us that he was aware of the upset by some residents but he had not been following the matter. The group is hoping that the appropriate agencies including and especially the Department of the Environment will address the matter and regard it as urgent. We will keep following this story as the week progresses.