Ban the burning of US Virgin Islands natural resources
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Above video is published by: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District using this method also known as "air curtain burning".
Published on Jan 21, 2014
The US Virgin Islands endured two back to back Category 5 hurricanes, which resulted in tremendous damage to the territory. The majority of hurricane debris is clean wood from fallen trees and limbs, and other vegetation.
FEMA and the US Army Corp of Engineers has influenced our green governor to reverse his original decision not to burn. The governor is seriously considering burning the material. The past practice of FEMA and the Army Corp of Engineers in situations like this is to use what is called air-curtain incineration, and they have proposed this for the USVI. This is basically open-burning of the material. The potential health and environmental implications of local burning needs to be fully examined. Burning in any form will emitt harmful gases and chemicals.
It is absolutely critical that vegetative material from the disasters be kept on the islands. It should not be burned--burning will result in a serious loss of the islands’ organic material that the soil and the plants on the islands will need to flourish.
The US Virgin Islands is a sensitive tropical ecosystem with high temperatures and high humidity. Many residents of the USVI have asthma and other respiratory and cardiac diseases that are made worse by air pollution. The operation of diesel generators and exposure to indoor mold, as a result of the storms aggravate existing respiratory diseases. It is an understatement to say that the air quality would be severely impacted if burning were allowed to happen.
World-class composting experts from the USVI and stateside have worked together to develop a composting/mulching plan for the islands that will ensure the debris management process is done safely and efficiently. Chipping, mulching, composting, and other beneficial uses for the wood are preferred. Our rich Mahogany and other valuable hardwoods need to be separated. There are many uses for our wood (wood crafts) and the finished material (mulch and compost), and this is a very low-tech, low-intensity process. This is a process that nature has perfected over millions of years and one that has been successful in many locations, and at large scales, including in subtropical/tropical areas like the islands, and with other disasters (like Superstorm Sandy). It has nowhere near the negative results of burning.
The residents, tourists and visitors of our American paradise deserve clean air and a healthy ecosystem.
Please let Governor Mapp know this is the correct path forward.
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