Frome promises relief to Big Bridge residents
WESTMORELAND — Residents of the quiet rural community of Big Bridge should soon be breathing easier as the Frome sugar factory has promised to address the long-standing issue of the foul odour emanating from the Dutch Canal.
According to factory manager, Norman Nesbeth, the putrid odour is the result of the washing of the cane that usually comes into the factory covered in mud.
Residents said they did not have the problem when crop was out of season.
According to pensioner Marjorie Lawrence, she has developed an asthmatic condition because of the stench, and she now has to make regular trips to her doctor.
“As soon as they start to do the washing of the cane and it come down in the river, it start to give you this asthmatic feeling. We realise that there is some hydrogen sulphide that we breathe in that is causing us much discomfort.”
Lawrence also bemoaned the financial burden that is now placed on her and other members of the community in the purchasing of pharmaceutical drugs.
“I have to buy medication like how I buy food. (I use it to) depress the congestion and this is something that I have to do three times a day,” added Lawrence.
And she complained bitterly that despite earlier promises of compensation, Frome has failed to defray the expenses associated with the odour their factory is emitting.
“It has been a long while we have been having dialogue with them and they are now telling us that Frome is broke,” said Lawrence.
According to Nesbeth, the issue of com-pensation cannot be looked into at this time as the factory is strapped for cash. He said, however, that he was sensitive to the plight of the residents and efforts would be made to dredge the canal. This, he said, should make the waste water move through the affected areas much faster, thus allowing more oxygen in the water and a reduction in the bacteria levels.
On Tuesday, Nesbeth assured residents that they should see some improvement by the end of this month. But he stressed that the problem of pollution could only be totally solved if all the boilers at the factory were changed, allowing the cane to be crushed without washing.
This, he said, would cost approximately $5 billion, which he said the factory did not have at this time.