By BBN Staff: The Department of the Environment (DOE) became aware of a situation at the Belize Sugar Industries (BSI) Ltd.’s Tower Hill Factory with respect to molasses undergoing the Maillard reaction in their storage tanks in July of this year. Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between the sugars and proteins in the molasses that occurs upon heating and produces a browning or burnt effect with a thick, dark black appearance and lower pH.
The molasses solidifies and expands upon cooling, and hence, is rendered useless; however it has the potential to contaminate the environment.
BSI reported that burnt molasses from both a storage tank and a barge needed to be disposed of in an environmentally responsible manner. As such, after an assessment of all possible options available to dispose of the burnt molasses, the DOE agreed to the most feasible option achievable under the conditions existing at the time, which included the following steps:
1. The disposal of the burnt molasses in BSI’s old quarry pit, which has the capacity to accommodate the volume produced by the Maillard reaction, in order for it to biodegrade over time;
2. Clean up of areas containing spilled molasses to prevent any runoff into any nearby water body; and 3. Developing a programme to rehabilitate any affected ponds in the wastewater treatment system.
The pit will be monitored by BSI daily during the rainy season in order to avoid contamination of the surrounding environment and water bodies.
BSI will install a “cooling system” for production of final molasses, as well as a “temperature monitoring system” of the final molasses to reduce the risk of a re-occurrence of the Maillard reaction.
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