Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is giving the assurance to residents of Lower Estate, St George, that Government has not been sitting on its hands as it pertains to the neighbouring dump owned by Anderson Cherry, which remains a longstanding source of frustration for residents.
Mottley said today that had it not been for the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Government would have already forged ahead with a plan of action, spearheaded by Minister of Health and Wellness Jeffrey Bostic, which would not only see relief coming to residents of Lower Estate, but also other communities which are affected by neighbouring waste disposal sites.
The Prime Minister pointed out that a ministerial committee and a technical committee were established months ago to deal with the range of concerns, including spontaneous combustion and foul odours affecting residents. However, many of the members of those committees were required to form the COVID-19 task force at the beginning of the year.
Mottley, who spoke to the media following a walkthrough of the facility today, explained that remediation efforts were further delayed because of the St George North by-election, as the intent was not to politicise this serious issue.
“It is now a question of meeting with the residents and working out what is an appropriate time to agree to what needs to be done to start to remediate here. As you heard, you will have some consequences as it relates to the remediation and therefore, like everything else this Government has done, we sit down, and we talk with people.
“We could have held those meetings five weeks ago, but we took a decision that we did not want to play politics with this,” said Mottley.
“The committee that we set up was not simply about Lower Estate alone and we asked the Pan American Health Organisation [PAHO} to come in. It was to also look at other difficult areas like Rock Hall, where we are now looking to move the persons because of the internal combustion on the dump. The same goes for B’s Recycling and other things that have been going on that need to be put on a proper footing. These things have a process and have to take time,” she added.
In terms of the remedies, chairman of the Technical Committee Ricardo Marshall explained that they opted for a tripartite approach to the issue. The first would be the compaction of solid waste in the landfill removing air which leads to the buildup of gases.
In addition, attempts would be made for further compacting of the topsoil to remove the fissures, thereby cutting off oxygen flow to areas that are burning. Plans are also in place to put a monitoring team to determine if there is any movement of waste that could potentially threaten the water supply. This would be done through a series of new and existing wells. The third component, which deals with air-quality, will be done with the expertise of PAHO.
Also weighing in on the issue, Attorney General Dale Marshall said dumping has ceased at the facility but the effects of the existing waste still pose a challenge.
“There is no doubt that this is a public nuisance, and we are at the point where we are preparing a remediation agreement which will provide the legal basis for action without having to go to court. The entity has admitted the wrongdoing and has verbally agreed to take the steps that are required,” he said. (CLM)