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Ministry touts opportunities in debris cleanup on Abaco

Scenes from The Mudd, Abaco, which was decimated following Hurricane Dorian.  FILE

The Department of Environmental Health Services intends to use debris collected from Abaco for possible business ventures for Bahamian entrepreneurs, according to Senior Deputy Director Thomasina Wilson. 

Minister of the Environment and Housing Romauld Ferreira indicated in September that the ministry hoped to take these items out of the country.

“The debris will not be going out of the country,” Wilson said yesterday.

“The debris will be processed in [the] country, and the recyclables that have to go out will go out as processed material. We are not shipping debris out of the country.

“We are trying to create job opportunities for Bahamians to come in, process the debris and turn it into cash or some viable product.”

Once the Department of Public Works collects the debris, Wilson said that it’s distributed to segregation sites opposite Spring City, which is 10 acres of land, and in Treasure Cay on the old air field. 

Wilson said debris is separated into seven categories: wood waste; white goods, like washing machines, refrigerators and stoves; electronic waste; metals; plastic waste; glass waste; and household hazards like paint, aerosol cans and unwanted household chemicals.  

“For instance, if someone wants to use wood waste and they need to shred it, it can be sold for a profit,” she said.

“If some of the recyclables like electronic waste has to be shipped out of the country, the business person would then have to see [how] to get all of the various components in gear to be able to ship that out of the country.”

It was also said that the government is tasked with collecting 1.5 billion pounds of debris on the island, but Wilson said that this was just an estimation that was calculated based on the population.

Wilson added that the department is working along with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) to execute this initiative.

Asked if the material would be treated before distributing to business owners, considering exposure to mold and dead bodies, she said that individuals would be trained prior to selecting items. 

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