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Air Quality Assessment Recommends Health and Safety Measures at Dumpsite

SINT MAARTEN/WASHINGTON - A baseline screening of smoke from subsurface fires at the Pond Island municipal and hurricane waste disposal sites was released today by the World Bank.

The screening showed that several air pollutants emitted from subsurface fires exceeded international occupational exposure limits within the perimeter of the dumpsite.

These results were expected as the majority of samples which exceeded limits were collected in the smoke where the concentration of emissions is high. The baseline screening recommends new health and safety protection measures for people active on the dumpsites.

The purpose of this baseline assessment was to identify the chemical composition of the smoke in preparation for fire suppression operations. These are to be undertaken through the Emergency Debris Management Project financed by the Sint Maarten Irma Reconstruction, Recovery, and Resilience Trust Fund funded by the government of the Netherlands. For that purpose, the assessment was conducted on the dumpsites only.

Based on the results of the screening, appropriate occupational health and safety measures have been identified to ensure the protection of workers at the site.  The Government of Sint Maarten will put these in place, with the support of the World Bank.

The Grant Agreement for the Emergency Debris Management Project, which, among other activities aims to extinguish the subsurface fires at the dumpsite while controlling the impacts on the environment and the population, is scheduled to be signed next week and subsequently rolled out. Equipment is currently being procured to help improve landfill management and better control the fires.

As an immediate measure, the Government of Sint Maarten will restrict access to the waste sites to authorized personnel and workers only and will equip them with appropriate protective gear.

In addition, to assess the risk to neighboring communities, air quality measurements will be carried out by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, RIVM) in January 2019.

Further air quality monitoring will follow under the Emergency Debris Management Project before, during and after the planned fire suppression operations.

 

Air Quality Assessment at Sint Maarten Pond Island Municipal and Hurricane Waste Sites: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the scope of the air quality screening at the municipal waste sites?

A preliminary screening of smoke from subsurface fires at the Pond Island municipal waste disposal site and hurricane debris site was conducted at the end of August. The purpose of this baseline assessment was to identify the chemical composition of the smoke on the dumpsite, in preparation for the firefighting to be conducted as part of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund Emergency Debris Management Project.

What are the main conclusions of the air screening?

The baseline assessment showed concentrations of emissions that exceeded occupational exposure limits for certain pollutants within the perimeter of the dumpsite. International occupational standards were used. These results were expected as the samples which exceeded limits were collected in the smoke where emissions are high.


What do the results imply for ambient air quality in neighboring communities?

The screening results do not allow us to evaluate ambient air quality in neighboring communities. The measurements were taken at emission sites at the source (in the smoke) and only measured composition, but not emission rates. The screening cannot draw any conclusions about ambient air quality, for this ambient air quality measurements are needed.

Is the smoke dangerous for the people living in the nearby areas?
Currently we do not have enough information to assess the air quality and level of concentration of pollutants in the air of the surrounding areas. The only information we have is that the chemicals in the smoke exceed the allowed limits when they are measured directly at the source in the dumpsite, which may affect the workers at the site.

Why are screening readouts measured against occupational standards?

Occupational standards were used because the intent of the screening was to understand how to protect workers and fire fighters on the sites. Occupational standards are designed to protect workers exposed to the pollutants during working hours, five days a week. In general, the allowable concentration limits for occupational standards are higher than for public standards.

What are the immediate measures put in place following the assessment?

The waste disposal sites will be restricted to authorized personnel, workers at the site will be equipped with appropriate protective gear. Air quality measurements will be carried out in neighboring communities by the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment of the Netherlands (Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu, RIVM) in early 2019 and further air quality monitoring and a warning system will follow under the Emergency Debris Management Project.

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Win a full St. Maarten Heineken Regatta experience!

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY) - As one of the loyal supporting hotels Divi Little Bay Beach Resort collaborated with the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and launched a Social Media Contest with a chance to win a weeklong stay at the luxurious Divi Little Bay Resort during the 39th St Maarten Heineken Regatta.

To compete people, need to like the Resort’s social media channels (@Diviresorts) to have a chance to win a 5 night/6-day complimentary stay for two from February 27 – March 4, 2019! 

One of the main goals of the St Maarten Heineken Regatta is to promote the island of St Maarten through its sailing race, in addition organizers put heavy emphasis on all other experiences there are to enjoy on the island to convert the sailors, their followers and other Regatta visitors to steady island visitors, having them enjoy the island at other times of the year as well.

The winner of the Social Media Contest receives a full Caribbean experience on St. Maarten: a week stay at Divi Little Bay Beach Resort and the total St. Maarten Heineken Regatta experience; Two VIP tickets for the legendary Sunday party and two Saturday tickets on the VIP spectator boat to witness the extreme racing. 

One winner will be drawn by means of a random lottery. Results will be announced on the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta and Divi Resorts Facebook page. With only 6 days left, running till December 20, 2019, the contest is entered in one easy step. Go to  https://www.diviresorts.com/heineken-regatta.htm and enter now!

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SMHDF Moves Forward with Home Repairs: Phase 1 Repairs Completed, Phase 2 Planning Stage in Progress

SINT MAARTEN (BELVEDERE) – The St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) is moving into the holiday season with good tidings as the organization announced that phase one of repairs to its properties have been progressing according to schedule.

“At present, the roof capping and flashing has been fixed for 44 duplex units,” Technical Manager Telston Bell shared, “as well as for 20 multi-unit properties.”

SMHDF duplex units consist of two units per property, while the multi-unit homes boast five to seven units each. Repairs to the Duplex units are being financed by the SMHDF and required the input of residents.  Most of the roofing has been repaired, and the organization now requires access to the interior to have damages repaired.

The Row Houses have had their roofing repaired and the SMHDF is proud to announce that with the excellent collaboration of respective tenants’, Phase 2, which is related to the interior of the homes progressing well with the valuable input of our valuable tenants. In so doing they are assisting the SMHDF to succeed swiftly in strengthening our housing communities.

The Apartment Towers Repairs in Phase 1 to properties damaged by Hurricane Irma were executed utilizing financing obtained from the World Bank trust fund established by the Netherlands. Housing Foundation has submitted plans for their remaining projects in accordance with the World Bank’s compliance rules, with repairs at the top of the priority list.

“Phase two is currently in its planning stages,” Bell commented. “It is reliant on the World Bank’s procurement process and once this has been completed, we will move forward. We aim for the first quarter of 2019.”

Repairs in the second phase of the project will focus on restructuring the roofs and facilities of the five towers (comprising eight units per tower), as well as the row houses, which number 21 in total. Once these repairs are completed, it will mark the end of SMHDF’s post-Hurricane Irma recovery phase. Director Helen Salomons stated that this will allow the organization to shift focus to other pending projects that have had their start dates delayed by the impact of Irma.

“We continue to work with our clients to facilitate their repairs in an efficient and effective manner,” Salomons says. “There have been challenges along the way but SMHDF has remained committed to executing these projects in and efficient and safe manner. For 2019 we deem it of pivotal importance that tenants collaborate with us to have this vision materialized in a swift manner. We can celebrate this holiday season with what has been accomplished so far, while we have maintained the same low rent rates for the past 22 years. Some as low as ANG 155, -.  Together let’s focus on the whole process of creating opportunities reimaged.”

The foundation celebrated their progress on Friday, 7 December 2018 with a grand customer appreciation party, which was attended by a cross-section of over 300 tenants of SMHDF’s communities. During the event, SMHDF raffled over 100 prizes to exuberant tenants. Food and beverages were also provided compliments of the SMHDF. The main prize of a 55” flat-screen TV was won by Sandra Hassell.

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POTENTIALLY CONTAMINATED ROMAINE LETTUCE – LATEST UPDATE

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - In previous press releases on November 22 and 27, the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Development and Labor informed the public of Romaine lettuce originating from the United States due to potential contamination with the E coli bacteria. This romaine lettuce is available in most supermarkets and restaurants on the island.

In addition, the Inspectorate also advised the public not to consume and discard of already purchased Romaine Lettuce. Drawers or shelves in the refrigerator where the lettuce was stored should be washed and sanitized. Restaurants were strongly advised not to serve any romaine lettuce, including salads and salad mixes containing Romaine.

The Inspectorate received an update from the FDA on December 13 providing the following information:

As of December 13, FDA has further refined the trace back investigation down to the farm level, which narrows the list of romaine growing areas that FDA recommends consumers and retailers avoid down to the following counties: Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara.

The strain of E. coli O157:H7 causing the current outbreak was identified in one sample collected in the sediment of an agricultural water reservoir at one ranch owned and operated by Adam Bros. Farming, Inc., in Santa Barbara County. The strain isolated from this sample matched those collected from ill persons in this outbreak

San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties in California have been removed from the list at this time. Other growing areas, for example Florida, Mexico and the desert growing regions near Yuma and Imperial County, Riverside County do not appear to be related to the current outbreak

The FDA is issuing the following updated recommendation as part of its investigation and public warning:

  • Based on discussions with producers and distributors, romaine lettuce entering the market will now be voluntarily labeled with a harvest location and a harvest date or labeled as being hydroponically- or greenhouse-grown. Consumers may notice that romaine lettuce is beginning to be available in stores with this new labeling. If it does not have this information, you should not eat or use it.
  • Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of Monterey, San Benito, and Santa Barbara counties in California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak and need not be avoided. Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak. There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources

The Inspectorate remains in close contact with the FDA and USDA. Importers and re-sellers are informed and the necessary spot checks are performed. 

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Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise & White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation Present Camera to SMMC Eye Care Clinic

SINT MAARTEN (ST. JOHN’S ESTATE) - On Friday December 7, the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise and the White and Yellow Cross Care Foundation (WYCCF) jointly presented a portable fundus camera to the newly opened ophthalmology clinic of the Sint Maarten Medical Center (SMMC). Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise initiated the purchase of the camera.

During the presentation SMMC’s Ophthalmologist Dr. Jerrel Pawiroredjo, the eye specialist of Surinam who is assisting the SMMC with the newly opened eye care clinic, explained that he first visited Sint Maarten in 2015 on the request of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise Club.

He was asked to install the then newly purchased fundus camera at the WYCCF in order to start preventative screening activities for all residents on Sint Maarten who suffer from diabetes and / or hypertension. Dr. Virginia Asin, past President of Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise, initiated this.

A physician herself and then working at the department of Collective Preventive Services within the Ministry of Public Health here on the island, she saw the importance of screening and early detection of eye problems.

When Dr. Pawiroredjo met with local stakeholders he realized there was no Ophthalmology clinic on the Dutch side, which amazed him as the prevalence of secondary complications from diabetes and hypertension (such as preventable blindness) was high.

This realization triggered his first conversations with SMMC to research the possibilities of collaboration between Sint Maarten and Surinam in order to setup quality ophthalmology services here on the island.

The Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise President Valda Hazel stated that the club is extremely proud of the donation of the fundus camera to the SMMC Ophthalmology clinic.

It shows how the project for a vital piece of medical equipment was the first trigger that later on resulted in full, high quality ophthalmology services being available locally, which is so important for the population of Sint Maarten.

Representative of WYCCF Bregje Boetekees explained that the fundus camera fits best within the eye clinic at SMMC where screening can now be done by the TOA (technical ophthalmology assistant).

The camera operates painlessly and takes a picture of the inside of the eye, showing the optical nerve and blood vessels. As diabetes and hypertension can cause damage to the nerve and blood vessels, early detection of such damage leads to early treatment, which will prevent far-reaching problems such as loss of vision.

Rotary International observes a different theme each month, each club throughout the Rotary world is encouraged to concentrate on programs and projects to promote each of these months.

December is observed as Disease Prevention and Treatment Month, the donated camera ties in with the monthly theme. The members of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise continue with its service to humanity.

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NAGICO Group-sponsored rowing team begins 3,000-mile row across Atlantic Ocean

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - Four-man rowing team Atlantic Discovery commenced The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge Wednesday morning, beginning a 3,000-mile row from the Canary Islands to Antigua. The team is sponsored by NAGICO Insurances, a diversified insurance company serving 21 territories in the Caribbean.

“We wish this inspirational team a safe and healthy passage,” said NAGICO Group Chief Strategy and Development Officer Kyria Ali. “This journey is one of extreme human endeavour, which resonates closely with NAGICO’s story. It is a true test of physical and mental endurance, and we are honored to be a part of it.”

During the first week, the team will need to adjust to the limited space, rigorous rowing schedule, and irregular sleep patterns.

“In order to overcome the discomfort, seasickness and isolation, the team will have to be resilient and work together, Ms. Ali continued. “The resilience, strength and teamwork that the Atlantic Discovery team is demonstrating are aligned with NAGICO’s core corporate values.”

Speaking on behalf of the Atlantic Discovery team, Cameron Parker, a Zurich-based director at Swiss Re, said that the sponsorship was tremendously valuable.

“We have been impressed by the support received from the NAGICO team from the start. They have been involved in helping us prepare and boosting the team’s morale. We feel like part of the NAGICO family and consider ourselves very lucky to have entered this mutually advantageous partnership.”

Other members of this intrepid team include London-based members Ben Ajayi-Obe, data scientist, Isaac Kenyon, geologist, and Jack Hopkins, cyber security researcher.

The team is participating in the row to raise £60K (USD $80K) for Multiple Sclerosis (MS), which affects 2.5 million people worldwide. The team will be starting the row having already made significant progress toward this target.

There are about 28 vessels taking part in the challenge, representing 14 countries. The total fleet of 88 rowers is expected to take between 40 and 60 days to complete the crossing.

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FCCA contributes 200 holiday gifts to school children

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY, DCOMM) – The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) Holiday Gift Project is an annual Project coordinated by the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau in collaboration with the FCCA. This event started many years ago.

Every year the FCCA donates 200 gifts to a selected school on St. Maarten. The schools chosen were the afternoon school programs namely:

  • Sister Magda Primary School
  • Sister Marie Laurence Primary School
  • Sister Borgia primary School
  • Sister Regina Primary School
  • St. Joseph Primary School

On Thursday December 6th, this event took place on board the cruise ship Carnival Sunshine where over two hundred children received gifts, entertainment and lunch aboard the ship.

Through this venture children throughout the Caribbean are treated to a very special Holiday as they received their gifts delivered by the cruise line.

“Christmas is one the greatest times of the year, and our Ministry of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (Ministry TEATT) and the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau have been part of this tradition for a long time, and knowing that this program gives back to our youth brings not only joy too them but also to us who are able to make it happen,” says Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun.

The event was a huge success and students and teachers were very happy as you could see the joy and happiness of the kids.

Minister of TEATT the Honorable Stuart Johnson said that the continued support of our destination by our Cruise partners is especially heartfelt.

“The FCCA and several cruise lines have done a great many things that touch the lives of our people through social development outreach programs.

“I look forward both to the continued excellent working relationship with the FCCA as well as its continued support of St. Maarten and its people. This giving of gifts for the Holidays is an especially touching gesture from the FCCA and on behalf of the Government of St. Maarten and the Ministry of TEATT, I thank you,” Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson said on Tuesday.

Director of Tourism May-Ling Chun wishes to thank the FCCA for their extra ordinary generosity bestowed and for once again bringing holiday cheer to the children of St. Maarten.

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'Divi Divi Air' makes its inaugural flight to St. Maarten via Curacao

SINT MAARTEN (SIMPSON BAY-AIRPORT) - Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunication (TEATT) the honourable Stuart Johnson was on hand at the Airport Monday at 11:30am to welcome the inaugural flight for Divi Divi Air from Curacao to St. Maarten.

Minister Johnson and Ground Handlers for the airline Halley Aviation Services and SXM Airport officials to witness the “water cannon salute” to the Boeing 737-800 aircraft by the Airport Fire Department and to welcome the captain and crew. Over sixty-seven passengers disembarked the maiden flight from Curacao.

Divi Divi Air and Corendon are jointly servicing the routes. Corendon is Holland’s third biggest tour operator.

Insel Air will now have a Code Share relationship with Divi Divi Air allowing prospective passengers to purchase Insel Air Tickets which according to Priscilla Molina-Halley, will be honoured by Divi Divi Airline out of St. Maarten. The Code Share Agreement with Insel Air and Divi Divi Air is for 40 seats on board their Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Minister Johnson said Monday, “The inaugural flight showed that there is a great deal of confidence in our destination. This is the kind of activity that investors have been hoping to see, especially given the hard work being done by the management at the Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) to get our Terminal Building reopened to accommodate larger arrivals and departures and get us back to the numbers of visitor arrivals we were experiencing pre-Irma.”

He said it is worth celebrating as this achievement is an indication that the island is moving forward.

Divi Divi Air has scheduled five (5) weekly flights between Curacao and St. Maarten. It will leave Curacao on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday at 10:00am, landing at Princess Juliana International Airport at 11:30am, and return to Curacao on those days leaving St. Maarten at 12:30pm and arriving at Hato International Airport 1:50pm.

The aircraft which Divi Divi Air has on Wet Lease has a capacity of 189 passengers. Germaine Durand of Divi Divi Air said there is a special promotional fare of USD$120 round trip to Curacao from St. Maarten with the lowest "regular rate" for the same trip is USD$188. 

The airline is presently in discussions to also fly from Curacao to Bonaire. Divi Divi Air will start its full-service flight from Curacao to Brazil with “very attractive rates” and "special on-board entertainment" on Saturday, December 15th. Captain Peter Nanninga who flew the inaugural flight said he had not flown to St. Maarten since 1984 and even though the island sustained severe damage in 2017 “the view coming in was magnificent. He said, "It is a beautiful island. I see why the people love coming here.”

Interested travellers can log on to www.dividiviair.com for more travel details. Divi Divi Air will leave Curacao a little later on Fridays departing at 4:10pm and landing in St. Maarten at 5:40pm. It departs St. Maarten on Fridays at 6:30 and arrives in Curacao at 8:00pm.

The two weekly flights scheduled to Guarulhos International Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil departs Curacao at 10:50am on Saturdays and lands six hours later around 7:20pm in Brazil. The aircraft will overnight in Brazil weekly and return to Curacao on Sunday leaving Brazil at 9:35am and landing at Hato International at 2:00pm. On that same day it will then depart Curacao to St. Maarten at 4:10pm and land in St. Maarten at 5:40pm, then departs St. Maarten at 6:30pm landing in Curacao at 8:00pm.

Divi Divi Air group 1 COCKPIT

May-Ling Chun of STB and Minister of Tourism Stuart Johnson in cockpit of Boeing 737-800 Divi Divi Air inaugural flight from Curacao to St. Maarten Monday. 

Canon Salute Divi Divi Air

Water Canon Salute

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SMMC medical center releases first World Bank project tender

SINT MAARTEN (CAY HILL) - St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) recently released the first of a series of World Bank funded projects that is up for public tender on December 19th, 2018.

The project consists of a complete technical design, delivery and installation of a new fully addressable Fire Detection and Alarm system for the existing SMMC building and Care Complex.

SMMC’s Manager Facilities, Erika v/der Horst stated: “In total we expect to have about 15 World Bank projects up for public tender. All projects are expected to be up for tender in the first half of the year 2019. The projects consist of the purchase of goods, several civil work projects in the field of construction, renovation and technical installation works and ICT projects”.

In order for a company to participate in one of the World Bank Projects, they are invited to register their company via the World Bank section on the SMMC website: smmc.sx/World-Bank/Projects

SMMC has launched a special unit that will oversee all procurement in relation to the World Bank projects which is called the “Project Management Unit (PMU)”, which will keep interested companies updated an informed when the projects come up for tender and will able to send them the tender documents directly.

For project information, interested companies can check the World Bank section on SMMC website under: smmc.sx/World-Bank/Projects or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Romeo Marlin acknowledges 70th Anniversary Universal Declaration of Human Rights

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - December 10th, 2018 marks the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being -- regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

The Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States' commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid.

The Declaration lists 30 articles each outlining and addressing specific areas in upholding fundamental human rights. Prime Minister Romeo Marlin said, “Personally, there are three articles that really speak to me and I would like to share them with you.”

Article 1.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 7.

All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

“As a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Government of Sint Maarten strives to uphold all International Declarations, Treaties and Laws. In conclusion, I wish everyone a wonderful Human Rights Day 2018”, said Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin. 

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