Belmopan Residents Complain of Air Pollution
The Department of Environment is in talks with Travellers Liquors Limited to address concerns raised by residents in Belmopan of air pollution. The affected residents live in the Cohune Walk area, near the northwestern corner of the City. They say that they have been negatively impacted by the emission of malodor for the past several months. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.
Hipolito Novelo, Reporting
For the past months, families of Cohune Walk, a residential area in Belmopan City, have been complaining of a malodor which every so often blankets the community. Community members say that the malodor has been negatively affecting the quality of air and their daily lives.
Voice of: Resident
“Basically you smell a slight bagasse and then sometimes you do smell bacteria waste and stool. Sometime it is a different combination. It is kind of funny because we don’t really know where the scent is coming from. It is a high scent and it is kind of bad because you wake up early in the morning and smell those things and you don’t know what you are breathing.”
According to the C.E.O. in the Ministry of Environment, Dr. Percival Cho, multiple industries which generate wastewater are within close proximity to each other. C.E.O. Cho says that the general source of the malodor has been isolated.
Dr. Percival Cho, C.E.O., Fisheries, Forestry, the Environment, and Sustainable Development
“It is coming from the industrial area of Belmopan. So in that particular area there is the BWSL sewage treatment ponds and there is a distillery for Travellers. We have looked into it very closely and the D.O.E. over the past months and I think even going back a couple years has been working with in particular Travellers to deal with the waste that comes out of the distillery. It is a very tricky substance to deal with as I understand, very technical in nature. But what happens is that when it is outputted as waste it does not break down easily and the treatment of that creates some sort of odor during the processing.”
Officials from the Department of Environment have met with reps of Travellers Liquor Limited and subsequent meetings have been scheduled. The recommended short-term solution to mitigate the negative environmental and human health impacts includes the immediate application of Effective Micro-organisms to digest the wastewater and prevent the emission of malodor
Dr. Percival Cho
“Immediately one of the solutions that Travellers is exploring right now is the use of micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi, to break down this particular substance to prevent that release of malodor. There are some challenges there so they are trying different micro-organism and I think they mentioned to me yesterday that they are importing a particular strain today to attempt to deal with the issue.”
As for the medium to long term solution, the Department of Environment is recommending the relocation of the waste.
Dr. Percival Cho
“The waste is apparently transportable and that can be moved to treatment ponds elsewhere, further away from populated areas. The smell issue will still be there but because it is removed from within the vicinity of the populated area it won’t be much of a concern.”
And while that is being done, residents of the area are reporting health issues, possibly caused by the emission of the malodor.
Dr. Percival Cho
“Some of the gases that are released that smell very similar, very toxic from other industries. If it is in that category that will have to be address immediately. So we are looking into that as well, what exactly is the composition of this gas.”