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EDITORIAL: Word of hope in the choking billowy smoke


marciadottin, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Word of hope in the choking billowy smoke

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WE?ARE?DELIGHTED TO?HEAR the days of the neighbourhood stuff-burning brigade are numbered. Actually, we look forward to the day they are over.
No less will be the anticipation of the anti-burning activists, especially the Facebook lobby group Citizens Against Burning Stuff, who have been advocating severe penalties for those who set garbage afire in neighbourhoods – and with flaunted impunity, caring not for the asthmatic or chronic sufferers of sinusitis.
Of course, we are relying on the undertaking by Minister of Health Donville Inniss to rid us of the annoying and dangerous practice.
Less than a week ago, Princess Margaret Secondary students had to be sent home after “thick smoke” engulfed their school, the result of “somebody . . . burning stuff in the Farm Terrace area”. Ironically, the school’s deputy principal Wayne Willock, who would have had to oversee those students suffering “panic attacks and wheezing”, is chairman of Citizens Against Burning Stuff. Here he was again witnessing first-hand the trauma of neighbourhood fire and smoke.
Mr Willock and his group of concerned citizens would like to see relevant legislation to stop or, at the very least,
to control the burning of waste, especially in and around residential districts – and, clearly, not without the best of cause.
Many a victim of indiscriminate burning has had to endure emergency trips to the Asthma Bay of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, after being exposed to smoke from a neighbour’s lit garbage.    
“We cannot continue to invest more . . . ,” says Mr Inniss, “in asthma bays at our facilities, as opposed to deploying resources to address part of the root cause – indiscriminate burning in this society.”
It is an argument for which no reasonable mind can fault the minister.
“So I wish to send a strong warning to those whose vehicles’ exhaust system needs to be fixed and to those who like to draw a match to burn their garbage on their properties: your days are numbered.”
We submit that where burning might be permissible, special burn permits be required. This should cover social bonfires and public larger-than-normal cooking blazes.
Special burn permits should also be required for agricultural waste burning, and, in this case, with the proviso it should be so done as to minimize odour emissions and smoke. And there should be days’ advance public notice.
Given the myriad cases of respiratory problems we face, control laws of refuse burning are urgent. Barbadians must come to understand that if there is need for urgent disposal of waste, the Sanitation Service Authority has a special collection scheme available.
Firebombing one’s waste is not an option.

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