Effective this September, all local commercial food establishments will be required to equip their kitchens with “an approved type and adequately sized grease interceptor”.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Health and Seniors on Sunday, a spokeswoman said: “This will allow for the proper disposal of Fats, Oils and Greases (FOG) and thus minimise the chance of ‘greaseballs’.”

“This policy has applied to all restaurants in the city of Hamilton since 2014 but will now be expanded to include all restaurants island wide to control grease at source,” said Health Minister Jeanne Atherden.

“The clogging of sewerage systems by grease deposits has been a longstanding issue and can contribute to the formation of ‘grease balls’ that wash onto beaches.”

The Ministry also distributed a list of the new requirements for “all permitted food service establishments” as of September:

1) Install, operate, and maintain an approved type and adequately sized grease interceptor. A grease interceptor is a structure or device designed for the purpose of removing and preventing FOG from entering the sanitary sewer collection system. These devices are often chambered baffled tanks that slow the movement of waste water, allowing FOG to cool, coagulate and accumulate before entering the sewer. All grease interceptors must be approved by the Environmental Health Section of the Department of Health.

2) All grease interceptors shall be readily and easily accessible for cleaning and inspection. Location of the grease interceptor must meet the approval of the Environmental Health Section of the Department of Health.

3) Wastewater discharge FOG concentration from the grease interceptor, grease trap or alternative pre-treatment technology must not exceed 100 milligrams per litre.

4) All such grease interceptors shall be serviced and emptied of accumulated FOG waste content as required. Grease interceptors shall be kept free of inorganic solid materials such as grit, rocks, gravel, sand, eating utensils, cigarettes, shells, towels, rags, etc., which reduce the effective volume of the device.

Commercial kitchen operators will also be required to “maintain a written record of inspection and maintenance for three years”.

“All such records will be made available for onsite inspection by a representative of the Environmental Health Section of the Department of Health during all operating hours,” the spokeswoman added.

You may recall the grease balls that washed up on shore at Grape Bay in Paget back in April 2014, that prompted a security advisory on “Contaminated Beaches” issued by the US Consulate.

That prompted another government statement by then Minister of Health and Environment, Trevor Moniz, reassuring both residents and visitors alike that Bermuda’s beaches were safe. Water samples were also taken for testing weekly.

In September 2015 the Bermuda Government held talks to get the warning of contaminated beaches lifted off the US State Department’s website.

An upgraded FOG Control Policy was also put in place requiring local food establishments to remove FOG from their wastewater prior to disposing of it in the City of Hamilton’s system. And new measures were implemented at the Tynes Bay Septage Facility.

Commercial kitchens island wide will now be required to meet the new mandatory regulations in September 2017.

By Ceola Wilson