The newly installed aerators in the New River have been working overtime to try and remedy years of pollution and neglect that the river has suffered. While the Department of Environment looks at long term solutions, it notes that the entire community, both public and private sectors, needs to show the river some much needed TLC. One of the main issues speculated to have caused majority of the river’s pollution was untreated effluent from the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) that was going directly into the river.
Via a press release, however, BSI assured the public that they have been treating all their effluent discharge before it enters the river. This is in accordance with the conditions set out in an Environment Compliance Plan (ECP), which the DOE agrees upon. The company refutes any claims, stating that the claims are unfounded. The release goes on to explain, “Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable gas under normal conditions. It is produced through decomposition of organic material… during decomposition processes occurring in anaerobic conditions (without oxygen) hydrogen sulfide will be given off.”
The release states that BSI’s effluent treatment system uses microorganisms which allows organic matter to decompose by fermentation rather than putrefaction. Fermentation is more efficient since it results in oxygen and water instead of ammonia, methane and sulfuric acid that putrefaction produces. BSI then clarifies that the Hydrogen Sulfide emissions that are affecting the New River are not originating from its effluent but rather, is a result of the river’s stagnation. According to them, this causes dissolved oxygen to be naturally reduced and results in, “anoxic conditions that lead to the generation of a bio-film on the surface and the generation of hydrogen sulfide gas that smells like rotten eggs.” BSI then reassured the public that, as a part of the task force working to improve the river’s condition, it is cooperating with Friends of the New River, DOE, and other stakeholders.