Reports have surfaced on social media networks of a cargo operator dumping raw sewage on the roadside of Southern Ambergris Caye. The reports were made by those who witnessed the act, driven by their concern for the effect the dumping has on the environment. As such, The San Pedro Sun launched an investigation in an attempt to find out what really happened, what are the consequences of irresponsibly dumping raw sewage in the open environment, and what is the proper way to handle the cleaning of a septic system.
The initial reports stated that on Friday, February 20th, residents of the area noted a white pick-up truck dumping raw sewage onto the roadside that leads to the island’s dumpsite. Further reports indicated that a local cargo operator was hired by owners of an apartment complex located on Northern Ambergris Caye to empty their septic tank and dispose of the sewage. The reports implied that this was the same person that dumped the waste onto the roadside. Those who learned of the incident were appalled by the lack of concern for the environment by the culprit, and as such tried to report the incident to authorities, but claimed they received very little assistance.
Sewage Treatment Pond
San Pedro Health Inspector Lisa Tillett commented that not only is the dumping of raw sewage unhealthy for the environment, but it is also illegal. “I had not received any report of such incident and I’m very disturbed. Cleaning a septic tank is not that simple. There are many attributes that need to be taken into consideration. For example if additives and chemicals are been used to break down the feces, then the sewage will not affect the environment. But if its raw sewage, then it is harmful to the environment and should be disposed at a treatment plant,” said Tillett.
The only sewage treatment plant in San Pedro is managed by Belize Water Services Limited (BSWL), who has indicated that their ponds, located south of town, are only used by those connected to the company’s sewage collection system, or by those authorized to dump waste in the pond. “We know that those who want to dispose their sewage in the BWSL ponds need to get permission from the company. This is because only raw sewage can be deposited in the pond. If there is any additive or chemicals already being used to break down the waste, then dumping that into the pond would be damaging the composition of the BWSL ponds. You have to understand that the BWSL ponds use natural bacteria to break down the composition of human waste. Additives and chemicals will kill this bacteria,” said Tillett.
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