[Updated with video] There is “no evidence that the Pembroke Dump Fire had a negative impact on tank water quality at the residences and businesses in the surrounding areas,” the Minister of Health told a press conference this morning [June 20].
Health Minister Zane Desilva said, “The analysis of water samples taken after the Pembroke Dump compost fire has now been completed. The final test results show that the dump fire had no long-term adverse effect on the quality of drinking water in the area downwind of the fire.”
A huge blaze broke out at the Marsh Folly Composting Facility in Pembroke in March of this year, sending smoke billowing high in the sky and visible for miles around.
Dozens of personnel from the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service responded, with the police, Bermuda Regiment and private water truckers also joining in the effort.
Chief Fire Officer Vincent Hollinsid said they had 17 fire vehicles, and 60-70 personnel on scene. He said there were two areas of horticultural waste on fire – one measuring 50ft x 60ft, the other measuring approximately 60ft x 200ft.
After the fire, Bermuda Water Consultants Ltd. carried out water quality assessments, with some residences and businesses within a one mile radius of the fire selected to have water collected from their tanks for testing.
The Minister’s full statement follows below:
The purpose of today’s press conference is to inform the public that the analysis of water samples taken after the Pembroke Dump compost fire has now been completed.
The final test results show that the dump fire had no long-term adverse effect on the quality of drinking water in the area downwind of the fire.
As you may recall, some residences and businesses within a one mile radius of the fire were selected to have water collected from their tanks for the following testing:
- General physical water quality,
- Heavy metals, and
- Several other specialized tests.
An incredibly reputable firm with many years of experience in water analysis, Bermuda Water Consultants Ltd. (BWC), carried out water quality assessments shortly after the fire broke out.
The analyses conducted on the samples were specialized and exhaustive and had to be performed overseas – hence the delay in obtaining the results.
There is absolutely no evidence that the Pembroke Dump Fire had a negative impact on tank water quality at the residences and businesses in the surrounding areas.
We take water safety and the health of our residents VERY seriously. That’s why we sprung into action and engaged in this comprehensive review.
The Department of Health would like to remind residents that it is important to ensure that water tanks are well maintained and cleaned on a regular basis.
This can be achieved by ensuring that tanks are inspected and cleaned every three to five years, in order to remove sediments which may have settled on the bottom of the tank.
Additionally, bacterial levels in tank water may be controlled periodically by adding three ounces of chlorine (household bleach) for every 1000 gallons of water within the tank. This may be carried out on a monthly basis. If tanks have not been cleaned within the past three to five years, it is important to do so before adding chlorine.
In conclusion, I would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding while appropriate tests were carried out overseas.
I would also like to thank the staff at the Department of Health for issuing numerous safety reminders to the public regarding their drinking water immediately following the fire.
Update 12.30pm: Video of press statement added
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