A heavy machinery operator piles crushed cars into the sea at the eastern end of the Waste Management Facility near to the airport. *Photo by Simon Jones
A heavy machinery operator piles crushed cars into the sea at the eastern end of the Waste Management Facility near to the airport. *Photo by Simon Jones

FRIDAY, AUGUST 31: Environmental groups have hit out at Government over recent moves to extend the Waste Management Facility further into the sea at Castle Harbour.

Just last week the shells of rusted old cars were being manoeuvred into the water at the eastern edge of the Public Works dump.

An industrial digger piled the vehicles on top of each other, while a plastic boom had also been set out around the extended area.

Greenrock and the Bermuda Environmental and Sustainability Taskforce were both quick to condemn the actions.

Government did not comment on the apparent extension of the dump, which is adjacent to the airport.

Judith Landsberg, President of Greenrock told the Bermuda Sun: “Disposing of our old cars, fridges and other white goods by piling them up at this dump is a serious human and environmental health problem and a terrible waste of resources. Greenrock has raised this issue with the Government on numerous occasions: residents will of course continue to discard cars that have crashed or broken down, and the dump by the airport is not an acceptable short term or long-term solution to the disposing of these cars.

“From an environmental health point of view, scientists at BIOS have been monitoring the heavy metal contamination of Castle Harbour from the airport dump for years.

“This is research funded by the Government, but has not been made available to the Bermuda public.

“The contamination is at measurable levels and I have spoken with marine scientists from BIOS who told me that they will not snorkel or swim in Castle Harbour anywhere near the dump because of the heavy metal contamination. This is an issue which will only get worse as the number of cars which are dumped continues to increase, but also as modern cars are more complicated and incorporate more heavy metals.

 “When the cars are dumped they are supposed to have all the fluids and the battery removed, but our observation is that this does not always happen.

“Even if they are stripped as required they still have mercury in trunk switches and heavy metals in their circuit boards — which makes it a serious issue when they are just dumped into the sea.

Stuart Hayward, chairman of BEST, said: “It is unconscionable for items containing toxic substances or residues to be put into the ocean without some barrier to prevent direct contact with marine organisms. The plan originally was to use inert concreted blocks to cordon off and isolate an area which could then be safely used as a repository for hazardous items.

“No matter what the reason, it is irresponsible to dump vehicles directly into the ocean because even though the oil and gasoline reservoirs may have been drained, these substances are so toxic that even very small amounts can cause harm to marine organisms, many of which eventually end up on our dinner tables. There is an almost desperate need for a stronger and more comprehensive recycling strategy that includes vehicle parts.

“There is also need for fundamental consumer education  so that we make purchases that are more environmentally sensitive with less packaging, more durability and less influenced by shallow values.”

The Bermuda Sun contacted the Ministry of Public Works on Wednesday, but we had not received a response by the time we went to press.