Letters — 17 August 2019
Sugar, energy and black ashes: air pollution in northern Belize

Dear Editor,

The residents of Chan Pine Ridge Village, in the Orange Walk District, for decades have been suffering from air pollution from the BSI/ ASR Sugar Refinery which has been affecting the livelihood and ecosystem in the area.

The air pollution carries ashes that spread like dust, finding a space to rest on every surface, hole and corner. The ashes, now finer than in previous years, are more invasive and easy to breathe in.

The problem has been persistent. On a really bad day, the ashes enter and burn people’s eyes. Collecting rainwater for drinking is generally no longer safe. The ashes also deteriorate roofing materials and are a source of respiratory illnesses and the long-term effects of the pollution are worrisome, especially for families with children.

Since the opening of the BELCOGEN plant, which retails energy to the national grid, the period of exposure to the air pollutants has become more complex and extensive. Villagers are in conflict because the same industry which provides a livelihood for many, is also the cause of the vicious cycle of pollutants in their homes and community.

There must be a better way! As reported by the World Health Organization, air pollution has short-term and long-term effects on the human lungs, heart and brain, and it also negatively affects the environment.

 There is an URGENT need for a scientific study of the situation and for continued unified action. The residents of Chan Pine Ridge and surrounding communities have a right to breathe clean air.

Ms. Teresita Torres
Chan Pine Ridge Environmental Committee

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Deshawn Swasey

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