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Sep 4, 2018

Billy White Villagers are Concerned About the Disposal of Dead Cattle Near a Water Pump

There are health concerns in the remote village of Billy White. It is small village of about two hundred families in the Cayo District. The village is not often mentioned in the news, but we were called out there because there are serious concerns that the water used for daily routines is contaminated. Villagers say that dead animals are being dumped too close to the reservoir where they get their potable water.  News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

There is an ongoing investigation by the Public Health Unit of the Ministry of Health in the remote village of Billy White, Cayo District, following the discovery of the charred remains of a cow. The discarded corpse is dangerously close to the pump that feeds water from the river to the reservoir, which provides potable water to some two hundred families in the village and even the school. Used for cooking, washing of hands and even a source of drinking water in some households and at the school, residents are concerned that their water source has been contaminated.

 

Omar Gomez, Member, Billy White Water Board

Omar Gomez

“I was notified on Sunday that a dead animal was thrown in the road going to the river from the pump, going to the river and on Monday I went to see and yes it was there. It decomposed right there, birds and dogs just tear it and some bones very close to the river where the pump is, because it is like thirty feet from the river were the pump is. The just put some tires like fire but it doesn’t burn so it decomposed right there and this weekend they throw another cattle.”

 

According to residents, one month ago, a horse was disposed of at the exact same location by farmhands from the adjacent property, but it was burnt after the village council brought it to their attention. It has been confirmed that the deceased cow was also discarded by them.

 

Sonia Morales

Sonia Morales, Villager

“We are working to have a good service for the people to provide good water and have good hygiene and trying to give good service but this person is going to throw about a month ago a horse and then the water board talked to them and they went to burn it but they burnt it right there in that place. That place is not for them, they have their own farm, and they need to burn it in their own far. And now this week we have the problem they throw a cow and so I don’t know what we can do to…we just want them to know that they can’t be doing those things because people can get sick and the kids could get any sickness.”

 

Omar Gomez

“I spoke to the person in charge of the farm and he just says, I just do that because I don’t have no space to do it. But this farm is like sevety0-five acres of land. And they brought it from way up the hill and just dump it there. It is not that the animal died on the spot, they dumped the animal on the spot.”

Omar Gomez, who is in charge of managing the water pump says that the pungent smell of decomposing flesh as well as vultures hovering above is what brought his attention to the situation this past Sunday. Since then, he has contacted several government agencies who, in his mind, appeared reluctant to address the situation. He believes that that is because the farm, which sits on seventy-five acres of land that runs from the River Road to the Macal River, is purportedly owned by the son of a senior minister of government.

 

Omar Gomez

“I pass the message to the committee and also I called the chairman of the village. So they start to do something, the water board contact the rural development person in charge and he says well we can’t do nothing. And he gave us a number for a thing it’s the health inspector from the area but he says we will see what we can do but up to now nothing happens. This is not the first time. I think they are not looking into this maybe because it’s the animals belongs to Minster Montero but he is a minster and a friend of mine so I don’t know why the rural development or the inspector can’t do something too.”

A check with the Ministry of Health this afternoon triggered an investigation and within the hour a health inspector was on the scene investigating the potential hazard. The Belize Agricultural and Health Authority is also aware of the case because there are reports of a disease affecting cattle in the area, so an investigation has also been launched to that end to determine the cause of death of the cow. But will it be too late?

 

Omar Gomez

“Imagine what killed this cattle or the horse and we don’t know. So people drinking the water and how we can be affecting a community and not just a family. It is our community, our children that is drinking that water.”

 

Duane Moody for news five.

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