For many households throughout the Grand Bahama Community, the need to utilize propane tanks and butane canisters increased in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The disruption in electricity meant having to prepare hot meals beyond the familiar electric stove for many families. With this change, also came an inundation of such containers discarded at various dumpsters in both the city and outlying areas. As the crews of Sanitation Services continue with their cleanup efforts, Lou Carroll, General Manager addressed the proper disposal of the canisters and propane tanks.
Carroll noted, “There is a specific procedure related to any pressure vessel, not just propane. The valve on it must be disconnected and the tank has to be flushed. We do not take pressure vessels with residual material in it.” According to Carroll, pickups of larger propane tanks in particular, are not in the purview of Sanitation Services. He stated that such tanks are dealt with by specialized entities such as FOCOL on the island.
The improper use of propane tanks/butane canisters has been known to cause serious injury and as residents continue to adjust to the impact of the recent storm, safety is stressed.
With the current increase of butane canisters, families are advised to take precautions. Among the safety tips, stay away from using propane or butane gas containers in the home. Instead, always use gas containers outdoors. Further instructions include refraining from storing containers indoors at any time.
“What persons should do, once the container is empty, take the valve off, and just fill it (the tank) with water. By filling it with water, you displace any residual gas that was in it, and then you can throw it in the bin,” stated Carroll.
Residents are further urged to follow the manufacturer’s safety tips, to avoid accidents on the home-front or any location at which there are propane tanks or butane canisters.
Carroll’s comments were made during the third week of media briefings at the Grand Bahama Port Authority’s Headquarters, as its Operation Restoration initiative moves forward.
TOPIC: SANITATION SERVICES UPDATE
The removal of debris and other waste from the streets of Grand Bahama following the damage left behind by category 4 Hurricane Matthew, remains a massive undertaking but Sanitation Services are equal to the task notwithstanding the challenges.
Lou Carroll, General Manager of Sanitation Services Company Limited, shared an update on the company’s progress with their cleanup initiatives over the last month since the storm made landfall on the island.
“The landfill has operated, I am happy to say, throughout this event… I must commend the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) for getting the power back to us in a reasonable period,” stated Carroll.
Carroll further noted there would have been ramifications for the landfill had electricity not been restored to the landfill in the shortest possible timeframe. “It is important everyone understands that when we stockpile garbage in the cell, decomposition generates methane gas, but if we do not get rid of that methane it can pose a serious odor problem for the city not to mention being a fire hazard. It never got to that stage, because, in talks with GBPC, and them shifting their priorities; we were able to get power back to the landfill, in time, to get our gas extraction systems back in commission.” Carroll added that once the decomposition process starts, methane is generated. “If you leave methane at a landfill it will create a fire hazard and it smells, that is the main odor that is given off,” stated Carroll.
“As we construct the landfill we install perforated piping at about 10 to 15 foot levels; that piping is then manifolded to an extraction fan. We then extract the gas out and flare it, (eventually we hope to put that gas to some beneficial use).”
“As long as we are getting a good concentration of methane without any oxygen, we know we are ok. Once we see the oxygen level come up to about 0.3ppm , then we know we are pulling in air. If you pull in air, the landfill is too hot and can catch fire.” Mindful that safety is priority, Carroll stated that, “We have someone going around all day, just monitoring those things.”
Carroll continued, “There are also problems associated with the leachate, which is the contaminated water that we have to treat that is generated just from the disposal efforts during normal operations. It was very important to get the power back, that is why the landfill operated without any issues at all.”
Aware of just how important the landfill is in the overall cleanup of the island, Carroll responded to the question of exactly how it operates, compared to the previous system. “ With the old dumpster, there were odor issues, ground water contamination problems, fire hazards, a place where rodents could flourish, so you would want to eliminate those things.” To control the infestation of rodents the garbage is covered.
According to Carroll, compacting materials is a major component. “The reason for compaction is to get as much material in a given space as you can. Right now we are getting as much as 2,000lbs per cubic yard, that is a lot of compacted material.”
With the increase in trash and other debris throughout the island, as a result of Hurricane Matthew, Carroll reminded residents that there are various forms of waste material and appealed for residents and businesses to properly separate the vegetative debris from other man-made waste. “We are stockpiling the organic debris; it is important for the community to understand that separating household garbage from vegetative debris is absolutely essential. Otherwise any contaminated debris, be it vegetative or not, all has to go into the landfill which is neither an efficient nor ecofriendly use of resources.”
He explained that the clean vegetative debris is being stockpiled by Sanitation Services separately and that the company is now negotiating with a vendor in Florida to bring in a large grinding machine to grind up the vegetative debris. He went on to explain why. “I am sure that everyone here understands the problems, fire hazards that are associated with having that much vegetative debris just stockpiled as trash.” He added, “ That would put the landfill in a very good position once we get that done as far as safety is concerned.”
To date, Carroll estimated that Sanitation Services has received around 40,000 cu. yrds. of vegetative debris since the passing of the storm and estimates that the number may double by the end of the cleanup process.
“We have operated without any incident at all through this recovery effort and I think that is a reflection on the performance of our employees who I congratulate and thank because they are the engine behind this whole effort for us. They have done a great job from day one,” Carroll noted.