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Nov 26, 2021

New Cooling Tower For ASR/B.S.I.

The New River will be receiving some relief from B.S.I.’s sugar mill by way of its newly commissioned cooling tower. The nine million dollar investment seeks to add an additional layer of cooling for the water being reintroduced into the New River after use. Today, reporters were invited to Tower Hill in Orange Walk to get a firsthand look at the system and how it functions. News Five’s Paul Lopez has that report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Today ASR/BSI gave the media a tour of its new water cooling tower. The nine million dollar investment is a part of the sugar mill’s commitment to protect the river it so heavily relies on for its operations.


Mac McLachlan, VP, International Relations, A.S.R./B.S.I

Mac McLachlan

“This isn’t cheap; it is around nine million dollars, Belize dollars, and this water cooling plant. But, this represents part of our commitment to the environment and to the local area here and in the North of Belize. You can’t be doing something here in the sense of an industrial operation, without being very cognizant of your responsibilities.”


The mill uses water from the Belize River at a rate of thirteen thousand gallons per minute. This amounts to some one billion cubic meters  being extracted from the river every sugar season. The water is pumped from the river and sent to the plant to be used as a component to cook and crystallize the sugar. The system operates by adding heat to the water.


Seidy Leinez

Seidy Leinez, Environmental Health Safety Regional Manager, ASR/BSI

“The purpose of the cooling tower is basically big equipment that increases the surface area for the decapitation of heat. There is an exchange between the air and the hot water coming in so that we can take it out at the desired temperature, which is thirty five degrees. There is an exchange, the air flow. So, you have air and water. The exchange happens between those two streams. And so one gains heat and the other loses it. So the one that loses it is the water coming out, and so the hot air is what flows up. You saw those big fans and that is what increases, distributes the air flow.”


From the cooling tower, the water is sent to cooling ponds located on the compound, before being re- introduced to the New River. Since 2016, the sugar mill has made use of various approaches for cooling, first with the creation of the cooling ponds, then with the installation of cascades and factory aerators.


Seidy Leinez

“From the time we signed our ECP we established a temperature profiling or monitoring mechanism, we were able to see that we discharge water at a temperature above thirty five degrees. It is a process that was addressed every year after the signing of the ECP, after learning that having done all of that there still was a temperature issue. Then we had to invest in something bigger, and this is it the cooling towers.”

In 2019, pollutants in the New River became so toxic that marine life began dying. The New River had reached a crisis point, and fingers were being pointed at the sugar mill as one of the pollutant sources.


Mac McLachlan

“We are very proud of this plant. And, I think it is something that we hope will play its part in helping with the issues with the New River. Of course, this in itself won’t solve those which need a holistic approach and there are many different reasons for the problems the river had. But, certainly we don’t want to be contributing to them. So this plant is one example.”


The sugar mill also has in operation an established a waste water treatment system which addresses organic components. Unlike the water used in the vacuum system, water in the thirty days treatment ponds flows from any cleaning that needs to be done as a part of the sugar making process.


Seidy Leinez

“Simple as I can put it, you have waste water coming in; you want to purify it through this process so that it is good to go into a stream. We are doing our part to protect the New River; addressing temperature is just one of the issue. So I believe that with this project, the investment done to address just this one shows our commitment to environmental protection.”


Minister of Sustainable Development Orlanda Habet says the investment in the towers is welcomed because it will assist in restoring the New River.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development

Orlando Habet

“We are certainly happy and definitely glad to see what this investment will do. As you know, there have been complaints for years now with the issues with the New River. And, regardless of whatever explanation there will always be other opinions, yes they are doing some, other are doing some to contribute to the bad effects of what is happening in the river. From our standpoint, certainly we have been working along with ASR for them to start doing some of those remedial measures, because certainly they have some contribution.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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