Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration declares “emergency cleanup” operation following complaints from local businesses and tourists

Slow removal of last year’s hurricane debris and derelict boats in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has prompted the Ministry of Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration (NRLI) to declare an “emergency cleanup” of Trellis Bay, assuming responsibility from the Recovery and Development Agency (RDA) which was created to deal with the storms’ aftermath.

According to the BVI Beacon, when the apparently underfunded RDA abandoned plans to clear the territory’s waters of derelict boats, the government stepped in responding to concerns raised by both local businesses and tourists alike.

“I had received too many complaints … about how Trellis Bay looks, and that it reminded them of the hurricane and that we have not yet recovered,” NRLI Minister Vincent Wheatley told the Beacon.

Wheatley emphasized the Trellis Bay operation was in response to the emergency declaration and that the RDA will still be in charge of removing the rest of the derelict boats from the territory.

Going forward, government has allocated US$6,945,100 in its 2020 budget that it will transfer to the RDA so that the agency can again take up the clearing of derelict vessels.

BVI still faces the daunting issue of dealing with the debris, currently wrestling with how to separate the wood, metal and fiberglass that results when the derelict boats are crushed. Additionally, there are no facilities on the island to accept the crushed fibreglass.

One option on the table is shipping the accumulated debris to a facility in the Dominican Republic that will handle the processing and sorting of materials, Wheatley said.