Incongruous: Greaseballs that washed on Grape Bay in April. *File photo
Incongruous: Greaseballs that washed on Grape Bay in April. *File photo

There appears to be no consensus about the best way to prevent so-called sewage balls from washing up on south shore beaches.

The government says the Tynes Bay septic facility is set for significant improvements and a restaurant policy regarding the disposal of fats and greases in Hamilton is in the process of being implemented. 

According to a government spokeswoman, restaurant inspections are ongoing. The government has also invested in lab equipment for analysis of restaurant effluent that will determine their compliance with the aforementioned policy. Such analysis is expected to begin next month.

There are also plans for improved grease collection from Hamilton restaurants, the introduction of primary treatment of waste by the Corporation of Hamilton and the continuance of twice- weekly monitoring of bathing water quality by health officials.

Additionally, the Corporation of Hamilton’s Front Street pumping station could potentially operate as a wastewater treatment facility, according to visiting engineer consultants. There has also been talk of acquiring land for a sewage treatment plant in various locations.

One local biologist, however, has suggested there is not enough space between Hamilton, the hospital and the south shore to build a wastewater treatment facility that could properly treat Hamilton’s sewage. 

Concerns about the cleanliness of Bermuda’s shoreline have grabbed headlines this year. Earlier this month, sewage balls were spotted along the Grape Bay shoreline. Earlier this year, US Consulate General Robert Settje warned American tourists Bermuda’s waters could be unsafe. A message was posted saying sometimes the sewage pollution on the south shore could be four times what is considered to be the acceptable American standard and that American visitors looking to swim there should consider immunization against diseases such as Hepatitis A and typhoid. 

The local biologist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, also broached the topic of extending an outflow pipe that carries sewage into the sea near Grape Bay on the south shore. The scientist suggested the government should consider extending the outflow farther out to sea and into deeper water.

“Dilution is the solution to pollution, as we’ve said since the ‘70s,” he said.

However, that would require drilling through coral reef, a notion that may not be palatable for local environmentalists, who also question its effectiveness.

“This is not a secure solution in that unknown weather and ocean current conditions could still deposit effluent on our beaches, which could then be reflected in negative publicity and the spectre of health risks,” said Stuart Hayward, the chairman for Bermuda Environment Sustainability Taskforce (BEST).

A new wastewater facility plant, said Mr Hayward, would solve much of the problem. However, even such a project would have its limits.

“Alongside economic growth is an accompanying growth in consumption and waste production compounded by a growth in waste producers,” he said. “Sooner or later the wastes produced will outgrow the capacity of a treatment facility, and the cycle of visible effluent begins again. The cost is what it is. One thing we can take for granted is that the cost will increase — cost for the plant and cost of negative publicity.”