Linley Winter, a member of the Bendals Community Group, is adopting a wait-and-see approach to the Government’s promise to put dust-suppression systems in place at two quarries.
Two weeks ago, on May 11, the Cabinet voted to pay for the installation of these systems at the Bendals and Burma quarries to protect residents.
The first is to be purchased for the Bendals facility, which – over the last two decades – has seen nearby villagers protesting against the high volume of dust emanating from the plant, causing health concerns and unsightly homes.
After that installation, officials will set their sights on the Burma quarry, which has caused similar problems for the residents of Pigotts.
It is expected that a total of a quarter-million dollars ($250,000) will be spent, and the Ministry of Works will undertake the installation.
But Winter says he will believe it when he sees it, since no time frame has been given for completing the installations.
He says he is not doubting that it will happen; but the community’s experience, so far, is that the Government feels no actual urgency to commit the human and financial resources that are necessary to limit the dust generated from these operations.
Over the years, residents have expressed various health complaints believed to be caused, or aggravated, by the dust emanating from the Bendals quarry, Winter says.
On a fairly regular basis, he recalls, a blanket of dust would cover the area; and, at the time, the asphalt-making machinery would be in operation, resulting in both dust and smoke plumes.
Villagers would develop problems with skin allergies, itching eyes, and upper respiratory-tract infections, he says, with the students and teachers at the nearby Bendals Primary being impacted negatively, as well.
Winter, a member of the Bendals Community Group, acknowledges that improvements were made, including efforts at dust suppression; however, the systems were not properly maintained or replaced, he says.
In the middle of 2001, and continuing thereafter, the Bendals Community Group led the villagers in a series of serious protests, in word and action. They were attempting to have the Administration understand that the manner in which the quarries were operating was not healthy for residents.