Friday, November 13, 2009

Odour from chicken farm described as 'unbearable'

Despite recent assurances by the Grand Bahama Port Authority that steps are being taken to address the prolonged problem of a foul odour emanating from the local chicken farm, residents say the smell still persists and is unbearable.

The GBPA has issued a release noting that it has been in "constant dialogue" with the owners of the farms, and have "impressed upon them the urgency of resolving the foul odours emanating from the poultry operation."

According to the GBPA, those discussions have resulted in the farm's owners, in August, beginning the process of implementing a new and more effective waste management system to address the odour issue.

"GBPA Environmental inspectors conduct frequent site inspections to monitor the progress being made, as the new waste management system is being implemented," the release read.

"During this period, constant efforts are being made to identify where necessary adjustments are needed to further alleviate the foul odour problem."

Back in July 2009, GBPA President Ian Rolle had addressed the matter, noting that the farm odour could possibly have been a deterrent to business development on the island.

At the time, he promised that the GBPA would be implementing measures to address the problem.

"No longer will we simply turn-up our noses and forget that this is sometimes the 'first impression' that our visitors have when they land on Grand Bahama Island. I am delighted to report that we are addressing this issue with the operators of the farm, and Grand Bahama Island will soon be declared an 'odour-free zone,' he said.

For some residents, however, progress has been too slow.

Sherman Williams said he believes the only true solution to the ongoing problem is to relocate the farm to a site somewhere in the far eastern or western ends of the island. That measure would perhaps also address the problem of flies, he added.

"I feel that it (GBPA's effort) is good but I wish they had done something about most of this air pollution in Grand Bahama years ago," he said.

"I would give the Port Authority thumbs up on the situation but I think the government needs to step in as well because pollution is a serious thing... I hope we can get our act together and move forward."

Another resident, John Sands, also suggested that the farm be moved from its present location, saying any other effort to address the matter will be in vain.

"My view is that as long as they raise chickens they will not be able to curtail the scent... That's chicken manure we're smelling and as long as the farm is located where it's located, it will continue to have that scent drift when the wind changes direction toward the airport and the downtown area," he said.

"The Port Authority can't change that unless they want to move the farm."

Meanwhile, Shonette Rolle said whatever measures the two parties plan to implement need to be commenced immediately as the smell is also affecting the island's tourism product.

"When you have tourists coming in, that's the first impression that they get - that foul odour... When you go someplace, your first impression of it that's always going to last with you, so if that's something that they are working with them on, they need to do that as quickly as possible," she said.

Rolle said she understands that in other parts of the world, poultry and livestock farms exist without affecting surrounding residents because of the use of a product that greatly diminishes or eliminates the odour.

"I think that's something that they need to invest in," she opined.

Another resident, referring to the longstanding problem as deplorable, said she too has heard of chemicals that can assist in the problem.

"I am sure there are chemicals they can use to kill that odour they just have to enforce it, they just got to make them do better or close them down."

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