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Jamaican health facilities to generate energy from sewage
Published on July 21, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

Chief Executive Officer of the Percy Junor Hospital, Manchester, Earl McLaughlin (right), has the attention of (from left): Member of Parliament for North East Manchester, Audley Shaw; Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Phillip Paulwell, and Minister of Health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, as he points out features of the hospital, at the recent launch of a $389 million project to generate energy from sewerage systems at six health facilities, using technology developed by scientists at the Scientific Research Council (SRC). JIS Photo

By Garfield L. Angus

KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) -- In another 19 months, six health facilities across Jamaica will be able to generate energy from the upgrading of their sewerage system through anaerobic technology developed by the Scientific Research Council (SRC), and funded with a $389 million (US$3.47 million) grant from the National Health Fund (NHF).

The anaerobic technology, which is patented by the SRC, protects the environment because of its low carbon process that contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission, and prevents the uncontrolled emission of methane (gas that has no smell) into the atmosphere.

General manager at Marketech, an arm of the SRC, Roslyn Fisher, outlined the benefits that can be derived from the waste treatment technology.

“It uses waste to generate energy, or ‘cash from trash.’ And, the process does not require electricity, so you can reduce on power supply sources,” she noted.

“The biogas that is generated from the system can be used for heating purposes, cooking and providing electricity. It is odourless, with little or no maintenance, and it is environmentally friendly,” Fisher added.

Minister of science, technology, energy and mining, Phillip Paulwell, who spoke at the recent launch of the project at the Percy Junor Hospital, said the collaboration of the SRC, which is an agency of his ministry, with the ministry of health, must be seen as a practical “demonstration of cost effective application of technology to add value to the lives of people.”

He said the energy from the system should be utilized in the running of the health facilities, which will result in savings.

To date, the SRC has commissioned some 500 wastewater treatment systems, inclusive of biodigesters across the island, at the residential and commercial levels. The ministry has a clear policy on utilizing waste for productive purposes, such as energy generation.

For his part, minister of health, Dr Fenton Ferguson, said that the project is historic, and the scientific aspect of it is part of measures that must be embarked on for all aspects of institutional development.

“These are strategic decisions that we are taking, and we believe that it is a most important project. When we move from this phase, we will move to phase 2, taking on six additional hospitals. This is going to continue a process that is far-reaching,” he said.

While noting that part of the mandate of the National Health Fund is to facilitate well equipped health facilities, chief executive officer, Everton Anderson, said: “We consider the sum that we have allotted for this project as a keen demonstration of our dedication to achieve quality health care.”

“The proper disposal and management of sewage is an important part of environmental management and the National Health Fund is only happy to play a part in upgrading the plants at the six health facilities,” Anderson noted.

Fisher said the health facilities, at the end of the project, “will have a fully functioning waste water treatment system.”

“We will have a cost effective environmentally friendly system for the health sector,” Fisher added.
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