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#515997 - 07/15/16 11:30 AM Molasses Meltdown at ASR/BSI
Marty Offline

ASR/B.S.I. Assess Impact of Molasses Phenomenon

Tonight, ASR/B.S.I., along with the Department of Environment’s technical personnel, is working around the clock to contain a large quantity of molasses. How that will be done, is yet to be determined since the tonnage of affected syrup is stored in a significantly huge tank.  The molasses is produced for local consumption as well as for the export market.  The syrup has been found to be affected by what is known as Maillard Reaction and it is the first time that the reaction has been detected in Belize. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Contained in these two metal storage tanks are unspecified tonnages of molasses.  Inside the first reservoir is waste material, the byproduct of a chemical process known as Maillard Reaction.  In kitchen science, this is the physical effect of combining amino acids and reducing sugars which gives browned food, such as the crust of most breads, a pleasant flavor.  In the sugar industry however, this reaction often spells bad news.  Here at BSI, it’s a phenomenon that was initially detected a week and a half ago.

Jose Cawich

Jose Cawich, Assistant Production Superintendent, B.S.I.

“This is the first time in the history of the Belize Sugar Industry that this reaction is taking place.  We first observed the reaction occurring on the fourth of July.  We observed that there was foaming from one of our molasses storage tanks and we quickly mobilized our personnel, gathered some samples, did some analysis and then we determined that the molasses was deteriorating as a result of the Maillard Reaction.”

What is left inside the tank is a carbon residue that is potentially hazardous if disposed of improperly.

Jose Cawich

“What you can see behind me is evidence of the foaming that took place in the Number One storage tank, as a result of the Maillard Reaction.  What occurred is that the foam exited from the four vents that we have on the tanks and that along with rain and cooling water that we had used to cool down the tank then basically allowed for that foam to drain down along the sides of the tank.”

Upon discovery, B.S.I. immediately contacted the Department of the Environment and a site visit was conducted.  Together, both parties are working on a plan to safely dispose of the affected syrup.

Britney Meighan, Environmental Health & Safety Superintendent, B.S.I.

“We’re containing the molasses.  There are no breaches to water sources.  Everything is contained and personally and with our EHS personnel, we are out everyday taking a look at the field, taking a look at the treatment area making sure that everything is intact and that there are no breaches, no spills.  And so that is of utmost importance.”

Isani Cayetano

“Now there are plans to work with the Department of the Environment in terms of disposing of this particular material.  How will that work and what has been put in place for that particular effort?”

Britney Meighan

Britney Meighan

“Okay, well we have been working with the Department of the Environment since this problem has been observed.  So [we’ve been] in very close contact with them.  They have suggested ways of disposal and we are going, we are following their instructions and we are working closely with them to abide by that.  I just want to mention again that we have no leaks, no breaches into water, into water bodies.  So as far as BSI is doing, we are complying with their suggestions.”

Isani Cayetano

“Is there a method of discarding or getting rid of this, I may call it waste at this point since it’s no longer being used, is there a prescribed way of dealing with this?”

Britney Meighan

“One of the main ways of dealing with it based on their suggestions would be through irrigation but currently we are assessing that that may not be the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of this material.  So we are working along with them.  Currently, we have not disposed of anything currently, we’re still working hand in hand with them for their approval and for their assistance in the disposal process.  But otherwise it would be in terms of putting it in a pit far away from water or water sources.”

While it is certain that the molasses in the Number One storage tank is no longer usable, the quantity, as well as its monetary value is yet to be determined.

Jose Cawich

“At this point in time we are still going through the assessment of the damages to the molasses.  However, what I can say is that the damage was isolated to one molasses storage tank.  We managed to salvage the molasses in our other storage tanks here at the Tower Hill facility, as well as the ones at the Libertad facility.”

Research shows that similar occurrences have been detected in other countries and the results are being used to shed light on the causes of Maillard Reaction.

Britney Meighan

“We are still studying it.  We have a lot of research on it but it’s still something widely unknown, very few sugar mills have experienced this so it’s something that, depending on every mill there are different factors that influence this type of reaction.  So it’s something that needs to be closely studied.”

Jul 14, 2016

Santander Works to Contain Molasses Spill

As ASR/B.S.I. deals with its molasses woes and tries to assess the financial impact, Santander is dealing with its own problems where that excessively sweet by-product is concerned. In their case it’s a leak from the containing tank.

On the Phone: Beverly Burke, Santander Representative, Belize

“A few weeks ago, I don’t remember the exact day, there was a molasses spill on the property in the tank area where the seams on the upper portion of the tank started leaking, and it was definitely due to welder error, so to speak. It’s not a matter of casting blame but that’s just really what it is. We had some seepage of the molasses. We went into action right away and what we did to mitigate immediately was to just dig immediately around the perimeters of the molasses tank just so as to contain the escape of any molasses. And we went through the process of dealing with the necessary cleanup of that, and we have looked at several methods in which to do that, and that was again addressed through the guidance of the Department of the Environment.”

Santander Says No Stop Order Issued

Santander, the mega-million dollar investment in sugar cane growing and milling, has been issued with a stop order by the Department of the Environment. News Five brought you that story on Wednesday, confirmed by the C.E.O. in the Ministry of the Environment, Colin Young. The problem is a breach of environmental rules outlined in the company’s Environmental Compliance Plan, or ECP. On Wednesday Santander’s Representative Beverly Burke denied that there was indeed a stop order issued, and today, via phone, she explained.

On the Phone: Beverly Burke, Santander Representative, Belize

“We never received a stop order from the Department of the Environment. What we received in actual fact was an enforcement notice, and those are two very distinctly different documents. As a part of the monitoring program we have in place, we actually do monthly visits with a number of government agencies and that is led by the Department of the Environment. The recent concern for us is that as you are aware we are in the rainy season, and the scope of works that we had scheduled for the past two months included ongoing land management for the project development, and more specifically that was looking at the necessary drainage systems at the Santander properties. Based on the assessment and advice from our experts, we knew that from the areas based on the natural slope of the land were prone to taking in excessive waters, so what we ended up doing was cutting two drainage systems, connecting it to the other system that we already had in our own property. So I do want to reiterate here that the drainage that we put in is actually in the Santander property. To prevent the water from overflowing beyond our property, we ended up using dirt that I know the C.E.O. made reference to dams. We had created a blockage to maintain that flow of water on our own property contouring the water just so that it is channeled the way our drainage network is designed.”

Company Has Remedied Environmental Breaches

Burke says that during a routine site visit by the Department of the Environment, they were informed that those works should not have been done without the express permission of the Department. And that is when they were issued, in writing, with an enforcement order. Since that point, with the supervision of the pertinent authorities, Burke says the company did as instructed.

On the Phone: Beverly Burke, Santander Representative, Belize

“Yes we have, and actually after the meeting held I think the sixth of July with both the C.E.O. and the Chief Environmental Officer and based on their instructions the following day which was the seventh we had the equipment in the property supervised by the Department of the Environment where we did the necessary return of earth to the drains that we had put in, and that was dealing with the issue the way they instructed us to. The Department does feel that not having permission from them to put in those drains is a breach of the environmental compliance and they are forced – they state that we will be fined. We have not gotten an official fine notice from the Department of the Environment, but we continue dialoguing with them and our intention is definitely to address the issue at hand and to make all possible rectification of the issues.”

Channel 5



BSI experiencing first case of Mailard Reaction


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#516016 - 07/16/16 11:13 AM Re: Molasses Meltdown at ASR/BSI [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

DOE Tells ASR/BSI to Quit Dumping Spoilt Molasses In Ponds

The Department Of Environment issued a stop order against ASR/BSI today - telling the company that it has to quit dumping spoilt molasses into ponds. As we've been reporting for the past two days, a large volume of molasses went bad in storage tanks at the Tower Hill Factory in Orange Walk. For the company and the farmers it's a loss of revenue, but it's also a major disposal problem since molasses poses major threats to waterways. Yesterday, ASR/BSI's Environmental Health & Safety Superintendent told the media that the molasses have been moved out of the tanks and into ponds:

Brittany Meighan - Environmental Health, BSI
"Firstly, I wouldn't consider the molasses contaminated because the molasses is no longer molasses after this reaction. Its a completely different product and the way we are storing it is by having everything contained. There have been no breaches to water bodies. Everything is contained and there's been no spillages."

Reporter
"So, the molasses are still in the tank as we speak?"

Brittany Meighan - Environmental Health, BSI
"No, currently we have them temporarily stored in ponds that are contained. We are still waiting for the department of the environment to give us some more confirmation to make sure that our method of disposal is appropriate and abides by all regulations."

Well, the Department Of the Environment says the company didn't abide by regulations in transferring the molasses to the ponds in the first place. Today the Department sent a team of senior technicians to make an assessment, and they also issued an enforcement or stop order, telling the company to stop putting the affected molasses in ponds. CEO Colin Young told us more via telephone:

Colin Young, CEO, Min. /fisheries, forestry, Environment, Sustainable Dev.
"We have been to the BSI and in fact I have a team up there today and our concern is twofold. One, whether or not the initial disposal of the molasses was in compliance with the terms of the ECP. Two, to work with the company to advise them in terms of the best environmentally safe way to dispose of the molasses. In fact today I think they are being issued the enforcement notice regarding they need to stop dumping the molasses in any pond until we find a way to properly dispose of it. If there's any violations then as for the EPA we will to proceed and look at that as well."

Jules Vasquez
"With the present storage in ponds, is there any risk of leeching?"

Colin Young, CEO, Min. /fisheries, forestry, Environment, Sustainable Dev.
"Well that is what we want to ascertain definitively. The pond that currently has some of the molasses is filled and is not connected to any other of the ponds. However I was also informed that in the event that there's lots of rain there may be the potential that there can be runoff."

Jules Vasquez
"What really right now is the greatest risk with this large volume of molasses?"

Colin Young, CEO, Min. /fisheries, forestry, Environment, Sustainable Dev.
"It's a potential risk at this stage from what I've been told and their trying to mitigate it but the risk is obviously if the volume of molasses were to get into the river, it would in fact cause a substantial negative impact on the river. Fish kills, you could imagine as you rightly said, the oxygen level depleting and all of that. We're trying to mitigate that and I have to say that the company has been quite willing to work with the department of environment to find the best possible way to ensure that there's no environmental impact."

And to minimize that impact, BSI is proposing to dump it all into a pit. The Department had a different plan - to use it as fertilize, but the company balked at that. CEO Young explained both scenarios:

Colin Young - CEO, Min/Fisheries, Forestry, Environment , Sustainable Dev.
"In the past, the department had recommended that molasses can be used on the field because it's a good fertilizer but in this case, the volumes are so high and because of the chemical reaction it will get so hard that it will require treatment before it can be put on the fields. From what I have heard from BSI, they don't prefer that method because it might be costly and the volume is high. So, they are exploring a pit to put it in and we want to ensure that if that's an option then that's its some place that is far away from any water source so that there's no ground water contamination or any connection whatsoever with any water bodies."

ASR/BSI says it is waiting for the DOE to confirm a method of disposal. The company stresses that they received an enforcement order, not a stop order, which simply means that they have to follow the directives from the DOE.

Channel 7


DOE Team Meets with BSI Personnel to Discuss Molasses Disposal

Up north, a team of officers from the Forest Department, as well as the Department of the Environment, visited Tower Hill this afternoon to continue an assessment of the current molasses situation at ASR/Belize Sugar Industries.  The company has since received an enforcement order which means that they will be monitored for compliance on the disposal of affected molasses. Together with Environmental Health and Safety personnel at B.S.I., they are exploring the most feasible means of disposing of the waste material.  The carbon residue is the byproduct of a chemical process known as Maillard Reaction and it is the first time in the history of the company that such a phenomenon has occurred. The financial losses are yet to be determined since the syrup is used for local consumption as well as for export.  News Five spoke by phone with Dr. Colin Young, C.E.O. in the Ministry of the Environment.

On the phone: Dr. Colin Young, CEO, Ministry of the Environment

“I can confirm that BSI has in fact reached out to the Department of the Environment to seek technical advice in terms of how they should dispose of the molasses.  We had sent a team up to BSI and they had in fact observed that there my have been, as part of the process of disposal of the molasses, some breaches to their E.C.P. and so the department is still working, in fact I have another team going up there this afternoon that has members from the Forest Department and from the Department of the Environment, a senior team that will visit B.S.I. and determine exactly what the situation is as it relates to E.C.P. compliance, but most importantly to assist the company to find the best suitable and environmentally safe way to dispose of the molasses.”

Is Burying Burnt Syrup a Practical Suggestion?

Among the suggestions that are being considered is the burial of the large quantity of molasses into a pit. To do so, they would have to identify an ideal location to dig a deep enough crater to dump the burnt syrup. That however, is contingent upon the type of soil the molasses would be deposited into, so as to avoid any seepage.

 

On the phone: Dr. Colin Young, CEO, Ministry of the Environment

“Yes, that is something that is one of the potential options that they will investigate.  The issue there is the location and the type of material that is within the ground, you know, if it’s clay versus sand.  Obviously we want someplace where there will not be any leaching of molasses into any water, any groundwater, creek or river sources.  So that’s one of the options they will look at because of the volume, it’s a large amount and we have to be worried about any kind of potential contamination of water sources.  So it might be that they would have to look at a pit, but maybe looking at some sort of material to seal the pit if the soil material is not something like clay.  The other option is, I had discussed this with the PR person from BSI, is potentially using it as fertilizer in some of the fields, but I think that we have to look at that because of the volume or whether it’s going to be cost effective for the company to do.  So the team that is going up there today is going to be meeting with the environmental and health and safety persons to find the best possible mechanism to deal with the molasses.”

As we’ve reported, B.S.I. is still in the process of quantifying the amount of molasses lost, as well as its value.

Channel 5


GOB cites Santander Sugar for environmental breaches

The Government of Belize has cited Santander Sugar, a Guatemalan company which recently started sugar production in Belize, for alleged environmental breaches, after officials had conducted assessments which they said confirmed that the company altered White Water Lagoon, which is considered a sensitive area.

Dr. Colin Young, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment and Sustainable Development, told Amandala when we interviewed him on Wednesday that about 6 weeks or so ago, they received information of some alleged breaches by Santander of their Environmental Compliance Plan (ECP).

Amandala understands that the Government was alerted by civil society after it was discovered over more than a month ago.

Young said that he then sent a team to investigate, comprised of officials of the Department of the Environment, the Fisheries Department and the Forestry Department. The team, Young said, visited twice and reported that Santander had violated its ECP.

“They had dug two canals without any permission,” said Young, indicating that this was a clear violation of the ECP, which stipulates that White Water Lagoon should not be touched because of its sensitivity.

According to Young, the company also set up two dams at different parts at Whitewater Lagoon.

Young said that Santander’s actions were “a direct contravention of their ECP,” and based on the report from his staff, he ordered the company to desist from those activities—but not from their sugar production.

Young told us that the Government issued an “enforcement notice,” calling on the company to stop its breaches of the ECP and to remedy what it had done.

He maintains that, “the fact is they weren’t supposed to do that…” adding that the area is “a very sensitive ecosystem…”

Young told Amandala that the Ministry responsible for mining is also considering taking action against Santander for digging in the area without a permit.

Young told us that the company could also be liable to face penalties. The Government is putting together its case, and if the court finds against Santander, it could face a fine of $100,000—which is the maximum fine that could be imposed for an environmental breach.

Back in 2012, Green Tropics, the name under which Santander was first known in Belize, was fined the record $100,000 for cutting a canal through Belize’s Central Biological Corridor, and it was similarly ordered to rehabilitate the area.

Amandala tried to reach Beverly Burke, Santander’s spokesperson, today, but we were told that she was not in office. At press time, our call had not been returned. Our colleagues at KREM News did air an interview with Burke and she indicated that the company had built the structures on what she stressed is the company’s property, to curb flooding during rainy season. Burke said that the dams are not dams in the real sense. She said that the company had created a build-up of mud to block water that naturally drains from property to not flood adjacent property.

Young said that there is no reason to justify the company’s knowingly violating their ECP.

The company has to immediately remedy the situation by refilling the canal and removing the dams under the supervision of the Department of the Environment, Young told us.

Burke has told the press the company immediately began working with the authorities to rectify the matter after they were advised of the issue.

Spoiled molasses posing a problem for ASR/BSI

Another crisis is fermenting around the sugar industry, and it involves the industry’s supply of molasses, which is derived after tons of sugar cane have been processed.

There are many ways in which molasses can be used, for example, in horticulture to feed microorganisms which improve the quality of soil, to make fertilizers and in the production of rum. As a result, molasses production, too, is a source of financial benefit to the north of the country.

ASR/BSI, the owners of the sugar mill, issued a release this week saying that there’s been a case of what is referred to as a Maillard Reaction.

Maillard Reaction, named after the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard, who discovered the process, is somewhat similar to the process of caramelization, where carbohydrates like sugar turn brown when heated, according to culinaryarts.about.com

However, when this process occurs, it can leave a carbon residue, which can become lethal if not properly removed.

According to the press release, only one tank of the molasses stored by ASR/BSI has been at this time affected. However, an estimated quantity and its financial value has not been disclosed to the public.

The farmers of the north will thus suffer a reduction in income due to the cut in the molasses supply.

As farmers struggle to cope with their economic problems, the environment is faced with a severe risk, as the disposal of the molasses brings its own challenges.

That is because this incident is rare and there is little known about its occurrence. According to BSI personnel, one of the methods of disposal is through irrigation, but even that needs to be assessed because it might not be the most environmentally friendly way.

As a result, the material has not been disposed of as yet, and ASR/BSI is awaiting instructions from the Department of the Environment.

According to BSI, the problem with the molasses was first observed on July 4, after which it immediately contacted the Department of the Environment.

In the press release ASR/BSI further stated that they are, “collaborating on an environmentally sound response to dispose the affected molasses.”

It concluded by reaffirming, “While difficult to handle, BSI is expending every effort to ensure total environmental, health and safety compliance…”

Amandala


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#516124 - 07/21/16 11:16 AM Re: Molasses Meltdown at ASR/BSI [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

3900 Tonnes Bad Molasses Cost Half Mil, BSCFA Says BSI Must Eat The Loss

For a week now we've been reporting on the molasses that went bad in storage tanks at the Tower Hill factory in Orange Walk.  We've been covering the environmental side of the story – because disposal of the large volume of molasses poses environmental hazards.  But tonight we finally know how much molasses went bad – and we've learned it from the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association – to whom it means the loss of major earnings. 

Today the Association issued a one thousand word press release saying that 3,900 tons of molasses was affected, equivalent to a loss in value of four hundred and thirty two thousand, six hundred and sixty six dollars ($432,666). 

The release says that "BSI has included this loss in its estimated cane price for the second payment to cane famers for the 2015/2016 crop….which will be shared in the proportion of 65% by cane farmers and 35% by BSI. The effect of this loss on the estimated cane price of cane to be paid to cane farmers work out to twenty cents per ton of cane.  At the bottom line that translates to a second payment of forty eight dollars and eight cents per ton instead of forty eight dollars and thirty cents per ton.  It adds up to quite a substantial loss for the farmers, and tonight they are objecting to sharing the loss; they want the loss should to be borne completely by BSI.   They point out that BSI has sole responsibility for the cane once it is weighed, adding quote, "Whatever happens to these products during the manufacturing and storage processes is the sole responsibility of BSI, and hence any losses that occur in these processes should be borne fully and solely by BSI."

At a meeting of all stakeholders at BSI today, the Cane Farmers Association asked the Sugar Industry Control Board to Conduct an independent investigation into the loss of molasses and to compel BSI to take the loss.

Channel 7


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#518645 - 11/01/16 10:09 AM Re: Molasses Meltdown at ASR/BSI [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


DISPOSAL OF BURNT MOLASSES FROM BSI

Earlier this year in July, the Department of the Environment (DOE) was made aware of a situation at the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) Ltd.’s Tower Hill Factory with respect to molasses undergoing the Maillard reaction in their storage tanks. Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between the sugars and proteins in the molasses that occurs upon heating and produces a browning or burnt effect with a thick, dark black appearance and lower pH. The molasses solidifies and expands upon cooling, and hence, is rendered useless; however it has the potential to contaminate the environment. BSI reported that burnt molasses from both a storage tank and a barge needed to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. As such, after an assessment of all possible options available to dispose of the burnt molasses, the DOE agreed to the most feasible option achievable under the conditions existing at the time, which included the following steps:

1. The disposal of the burnt molasses in BSI’s old quarry pit, which has the capacity to accommodate the volume produced by the Maillard reaction, in order for it to biodegrade over time;

2. Clean up of areas containing spilled molasses to prevent any runoff into any nearby water body; and

3. Develop a programme to rehabilitate any affected ponds in the wastewater treatment system.

In order to avoid any contamination to the surrounding environment and water bodies, the pit will be monitored by BSI daily during the rainy season. To reduce the risk of a reoccurrence of the Maillard reaction, BSI will install a “cooling system” for production of final molasses, as well as a “temperature monitoring system” of the final molasses.

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