Video: Minister Roban Press Conference

June 19, 2024 | 1 Comment

[Updated] Deputy Premier and Minister of Home Affairs Walter Roban is holding a press conference this morning [June 19] on legislative amendments to enhance environmental protections. We will have additional information later on, and in the meantime the live video is below.

Update 12.20pm: The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Thank you for joining me today as we discuss the Government’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that Bermuda maintains the highest quality of air and water. This commitment is essential not only for our fragile environment but also for the well-being of our citizens.
Why is this important?

Clean air and water are fundamental to public health and the sustainability of our natural ecosystems. Ensuring the purity of these essential resources protects our community’s health and our island’s economy and preserves Bermuda’s natural beauty for future generations.

To achieve these goals, we propose to implement a suite of amendments to the Water Resources Act 1975 and the Clean Air Act 1991.
Over the next three weeks, I invite the public to comment on these proposed legislative changes. Additionally, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR] will be holding individual consultation meetings with stakeholders.

Following the consultation period, we will consider the feedback and amend the Bills accordingly, before bringing the final version to Cabinet for legislative action in July 2024.

Let me begin with the intended improvements to the Water Resources Act…

Every five years, we issue approximately three thousand one hundred and forty two [3,142] Water Rights to manage the use of groundwater from wells for various purposes. These include toilet flushing, treating groundwater to make potable water, cooling water for buildings, and irrigation. We also manage about eight hundred seventy one [871] disposal boreholes, for uses including, discharging treated wastewater, road stormwater runoff, and cooling water return from buildings. Well-diggers are also regulated to ensure compliance with the Act. Monitoring groundwater quality and the status of the freshwater lenses is crucial to managing the island’s water resources.

Recent boat sewage regulations created no-discharge zones close to shore and within various enclosed seas and harbours. Updates to the Act will enable public officers from other Departments to enforce these regulations and assist in identifying habitual offenders who discharge sewage within no-discharge zones.

Many environmentally conscious companies already report pollution spills, monitor and clean up soils and waters as part of their operating licences. This is currently done under the Clean Air Act 1991 and only applies to some companies.

In order to comprehensively address these issues, it is proposed that they should be dealt with under the Water Resources Act. This will ensure that all polluting activities are controlled to protect human health and the environment.

It is proposed that new regulations, based on existing cleanup guidelines, will be applied to any person who pollutes. The new amendments will make it an offense not to report a pollution event, allow for Pollution Stop Orders, and mandate the need for abatement and remediation of polluted ground and groundwater. This will significantly enhance the Government’s ability to protect the environment.

Additionally, the Government will provide best practice guidance online, based on international processes from developed jurisdictions, to inform the public how to reduce the risk of pollution spills.

Now to the Clean Air Act.

The Clean Air Act 1991 and Clean Air Regulations 1993 aim to ensure that the outside air we breathe is safe. Advances in our understanding of the biological effects of certain pollutants require periodic refinement of the limit values stipulated in the Regulations. These refinements help ensure that emissions from various sources do not adversely affect people and the natural environment.

Through licencing, the Act protects the public and our environment by ensuring polluting facilities use appropriate technologies to keep emissions below stipulated thresholds. Over six hundred [600] polluting facilities, or ‘controlled plants,’ are licenced annually through this Act, including:

  • Electrical generators such as BELCO and standby units,
  • Stone Crushers, Sifters, and Cutters,
  • Incinerators including Tynes Bay, Mediwaste, and Crematoria,
  • Waste management facilities,
  • Aerated Sewage Treatment Plants,
  • Concrete manufacturers,
  • Spray paint facilities for both vehicles and machinery,
  • Asphalt plants,
  • Dry cleaners & boilers,
  • and hazardous chemical storage.

The DENR manages a range of monitoring stations around Bermuda, through a contract with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences [BIOS]. The Department can also place conditions on licencees of polluting facilities to provide supplemental ambient air monitoring. All air quality monitoring data is published annually to the Department of Statistics Compendium and informs policy decisions.

The Regulations also address the importation, use, and export of ‘controlled chemicals’. The listed chemicals can be refined as our understanding of their impact on people and the environment improves and safer alternatives become available.

However, despite some contaminants falling below the stipulated limit-values or not being listed as controlled chemicals, their effects as nuisance odour on the public can still be significant.

With this in mind, the Government wishes to amend the Clean Air Act to make the following changes:

  1. Refine pollutant limit-values to further reduce risks to people and the environment. Bermuda’s proposed limit-values will be more stringent than the equivalent limit-values in the UK and will align to the aspirational objective target-levels of the UK but will be much more enforceable. For extremely small polluting particles, we are proposing to use the US National Statute limit, as it is more stringent than the UK equivalent.

    Limit-values in the proposed amendments will cover:

    Sulphur dioxide
    Hydrogen chloride
    Nitrogen dioxide
    Hydrogen sulphide
    Carbon monoxide
    Poly-Aromatic Hydrocarbons
    Microscopic particles, known as PM10 and PM2.5.

  2. Address public impacts from BELCO North Power Station engines by tightening controls on exhaust fumes and odour nuisances.
  3. Require licencees to develop and submit an Air Quality Action Plan [AQAP] for review and approval by the Minister when emissions exceed limit-values. The plan must include a schedule of actions and goals for improvement. Public consultations will also be part of the AQAP process.
  4. Introduce new Odour Regulations to set limit-values for nuisance odours generated by ‘controlled plants.’ Trained assessors will use the Dilution-To-Threshold method to determine whether the odour can be considered a nuisance or not.
  5. Incorporate ‘best available technologies’ for preventing or minimizing emissions and impacts, including nuisance odours.
  6. Define approved air contaminant measurement methodologies, equivalent to US EPA standards and other indicative methods.
  7. Expand the list of controlled chemicals to include replacement refrigerant gases introduced under the Montreal Protocol 1987, now being replaced due to their high Global Warming Potential [GWP].
  8. Redefine certain ‘controlled plants,’ specifically facilities for spray painting vehicles and machinery, to include open-air spray painting and inflatable spray paint booths operated commercially.

I must clarify for the public that the BELCO soot issue is separate to the fuel/oil odour and exhaust fume issues that these amendments are designed to address. Measuring the periodic soot fallout events is proving challenging. Data associated with these soot events will continue to be collected and further consultation will be had with the Attorney General’s Chambers to determine the appropriate measures and mechanisms to address these issues.
Key Areas for Feedback

Over the next three weeks, the public is invited to consider the proposed changes to both the Clean Air Act and the Water Resources Act, specifically:

For the Clean Air Act

  1. Air quality limits for outside ambient air.
  2. Additional locations for ambient air quality monitoring.
  3. Standards for ambient air under new regulations.
  4. Increased enforcement powers and appropriate fines under the Clean Air Act and Regulations.
  5. Monitoring requirements for controlled plants that pollute.
  6. Public participation in developing Air Quality Action Plans for areas with poor air quality.

For the Water Resources Act

  1. Establishing pollution limits above ground to prevent the pollution of public water and seawater resources.
  2. Creating environmental pollution standards under the new regulations.
  3. Increasing enforcement powers under the Water Resources Act 1975 and the Water Resources [Prevention of Pollution by Sewage from Boats] Regulations 2018.
  4. Appropriate fines to deter behaviors that pollute the environment.
  5. Including marine outfalls under the definition of ‘works’ to manage waste discharged into the sea.
  6. Reporting timelines for pollution events to authorities.
  7. Information that should be included in publicly available best practice guidelines to reduce the risk of pollution events.

I encourage everyone to visit the Bermuda Citizen’s Forum at and provide their feedback on both the draft Water Resources Amendment and Clean Air Amendment Bill. The consultation period for both will end on 9th July 2024.

The Government’s commitment to protecting Bermuda’s air and water quality is unwavering. These proposed amendments and new regulations are vital steps towards a cleaner, healthier environment for all. We look forward to your participation and valuable feedback during the consultation process.

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  1. Steve says:

    Yawning more trash

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