The Senator stated that despite the numerous appeals from the residents for the intervention of the Government and JISCO/ALPART, these pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears, and the authorities have turned a blind eye to the plight of the residents.
The Shadow Minister also revealed that on April 5, 2018, a team from the Opposition’s Task Force on Land and Environment visited the affected communities to get a firsthand account of the difficulties faced by the citizens, as a result of the hazardous emission. This information gathering stopover visit culminated in a meeting with JISCO’s management, who admitted of being aware of the issues as highlighted by the residents of the affected areas and gave assurances that steps would be undertaken to resolve the health hazard.
The main issues facing the residents were discussed and the following were highlighted:
- Relocation of residents – JISCO stated at the time that forty-eight (48) families would be relocated within the next three (3) years with the first three (3) in 2018. A relocation committee had been established which would decide on the persons to be relocated.
- The need for a better health policy that allows for extensive health checks.
- JISCO/ALPART agreed to consider assisting with funds for the completion of the Essex Valley Water Supply Scheme. The completion of this water system would alleviate the various water issues and residents would receive piped water. As an alternative, JISCO was urged to consider providing covered water storage facilities such as the black drums.
- The Jamaica Bauxite Institute would become more involved and provide greater oversight of the industry.
- JISCO/ALPART stated that NEPA had not undertaken any Air Quality test of its own, but relied on those taken by JISCO’s internal testing system.
At the conclusion of those discussions, as a matter of urgency, Senator Frazer Binns called on NEPA to undertake its own independent testing of the air quality and water supply in the affected areas to assure residents to the quality of the supply.
The PNP Shadow Minister said she is disappointed that more than a year later the discussions taken at the meeting have not been implemented, and despite numerous requests for a follow-up meeting with JISCO/ALPART, none has been granted.
Senator Frazer Binns is again urging the Government to give priority to this matter, as the citizens have been undergoing “far too much for far too long,” she said. "The residents are suffering both physically and financially as the general cry is of continued illnesses and fears of long-term life-threatening illness coupled with the loss of income due to the complete loss of crops and/or low crop yields, Senator Frazer Binns stated.
"We, therefore, are urging the portfolio Minister to lead the efforts of the government through the relevant authorities to demonstrate immediate and committed attention to this effort in the interest of the people," the senator urged.
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