Commissioner Bruce Zagers extended an interview Tuesday morning, while overseeing the running of Saba’s brand new garbage disposal machine, the Airburner. “As you can see there is little to no smoke compared to what it used to be. It is not a perfect solution, but it is a great, great improvement to what it was before,” said Zagers. “I’ve been here and the machine has been working since early morning and I’ve received calls from people in St. John’s that there is no smoke coming up.” The commissioner had received a lot of community complaints over the years of burning of the landfill and the resulting smog, which from time to time engulfed St. John’s and The Bottom communities. He took the potential health hazards for the St. John’s community seriously, which houses the island’s school buildings, and assumed responsibility for solving this by attempting to enforce a ban on the burning practice. Solving the complex garbage situation required a longterm vision which he pursued in cooperation with Island Council in drafting a study on the best-fit technology for a small island community. The result of the process was this delivered and running Airburner, which entered in operation this week.
Elated with the outcome Zagers explained why the scale of the unit and the investment is appropriate for the island. He explained the garbage separation process, the removal of large metals and the role of the area with a concrete ramp from where an excavator supplies the garbage bags into the machine while the rest of the team alternately supplies pallets. Nearby a dump is used for discarding the resulting ashes with minimal tin and glass residue still visible after processing. Commissioner Zagers said that a training team from Johnson’s Enterprises N.V. Aruba had arrived on Saba, on Sunday, September 23, and conducted workshops and test runs with the local stakeholders. Johnson’s Enterprises are the agents of the Airburner machines in the Caribbean region. The team training the local contractor, Zulian Construction workers, is expected to leave Thursday. The training involved a thorough safety procedures presentation, held Monday morning, with all trainings provided to both the contracted company’s management and the workers at the landfill. The Planning Bureau and Public Works team also participated.
Zagers also explained that “they have two units in Aruba that they use to burn sewage,” and that this is how the idea came to use this type of machine for burning all garbage on Saba. While the lifespan of the machine on Aruba is of approximately five to eight years, the training team members believe that the machine will last longer on Saba where there it will not be used daily as it is in Aruba. The commissioner stressed one aspect in which the entire community can contribute. “We urge everyone, especially shop owners, to collect all the pallets they can spare as these act as fuel for the fire. It has to be a community effort to make this work.” He added that “before the end of the year, I hope we can initiate an extensive community campaign to separate the glass so as to reduce the volume and fuel that gets burned.” Landfill Managing Director Jose Luis Arenas Anez explained that the engine of the Airburner fan is using diesel fuel so removing glass and metals would increase efficiency.