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Jul 14, 2016

ASR/B.S.I. Assess Impact of Molasses Phenomenon

Tonight, ASR/B.S.I., along with the Department of Environment’s technical personnel, is working around the clock to contain a large quantity of molasses. How that will be done, is yet to be determined since the tonnage of affected syrup is stored in a significantly huge tank.  The molasses is produced for local consumption as well as for the export market.  The syrup has been found to be affected by what is known as Maillard Reaction and it is the first time that the reaction has been detected in Belize. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Contained in these two metal storage tanks are unspecified tonnages of molasses.  Inside the first reservoir is waste material, the byproduct of a chemical process known as Maillard Reaction.  In kitchen science, this is the physical effect of combining amino acids and reducing sugars which gives browned food, such as the crust of most breads, a pleasant flavor.  In the sugar industry however, this reaction often spells bad news.  Here at BSI, it’s a phenomenon that was initially detected a week and a half ago.


Jose Cawich

Jose Cawich, Assistant Production Superintendent, B.S.I.

“This is the first time in the history of the Belize Sugar Industry that this reaction is taking place.  We first observed the reaction occurring on the fourth of July.  We observed that there was foaming from one of our molasses storage tanks and we quickly mobilized our personnel, gathered some samples, did some analysis and then we determined that the molasses was deteriorating as a result of the Maillard Reaction.”


What is left inside the tank is a carbon residue that is potentially hazardous if disposed of improperly.


Jose Cawich

“What you can see behind me is evidence of the foaming that took place in the Number One storage tank, as a result of the Maillard Reaction.  What occurred is that the foam exited from the four vents that we have on the tanks and that along with rain and cooling water that we had used to cool down the tank then basically allowed for that foam to drain down along the sides of the tank.”


Upon discovery, B.S.I. immediately contacted the Department of the Environment and a site visit was conducted.  Together, both parties are working on a plan to safely dispose of the affected syrup.


Britney Meighan, Environmental Health & Safety Superintendent, B.S.I.

“We’re containing the molasses.  There are no breaches to water sources.  Everything is contained and personally and with our EHS personnel, we are out everyday taking a look at the field, taking a look at the treatment area making sure that everything is intact and that there are no breaches, no spills.  And so that is of utmost importance.”


Isani Cayetano

“Now there are plans to work with the Department of the Environment in terms of disposing of this particular material.  How will that work and what has been put in place for that particular effort?”


Britney Meighan

Britney Meighan

“Okay, well we have been working with the Department of the Environment since this problem has been observed.  So [we’ve been] in very close contact with them.  They have suggested ways of disposal and we are going, we are following their instructions and we are working closely with them to abide by that.  I just want to mention again that we have no leaks, no breaches into water, into water bodies.  So as far as BSI is doing, we are complying with their suggestions.”


Isani Cayetano

“Is there a method of discarding or getting rid of this, I may call it waste at this point since it’s no longer being used, is there a prescribed way of dealing with this?”


Britney Meighan

“One of the main ways of dealing with it based on their suggestions would be through irrigation but currently we are assessing that that may not be the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of this material.  So we are working along with them.  Currently, we have not disposed of anything currently, we’re still working hand in hand with them for their approval and for their assistance in the disposal process.  But otherwise it would be in terms of putting it in a pit far away from water or water sources.”


While it is certain that the molasses in the Number One storage tank is no longer usable, the quantity, as well as its monetary value is yet to be determined.


Jose Cawich

“At this point in time we are still going through the assessment of the damages to the molasses.  However, what I can say is that the damage was isolated to one molasses storage tank.  We managed to salvage the molasses in our other storage tanks here at the Tower Hill facility, as well as the ones at the Libertad facility.”


Research shows that similar occurrences have been detected in other countries and the results are being used to shed light on the causes of Maillard Reaction.


Britney Meighan

“We are still studying it.  We have a lot of research on it but it’s still something widely unknown, very few sugar mills have experienced this so it’s something that, depending on every mill there are different factors that influence this type of reaction.  So it’s something that needs to be closely studied.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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