A Barbados Labour Party legal team today began preparation to sue the Freundel Stuart Government over its handing over of the Bagatelle metal dump to a private firm.
Candidate for St. James Central, Senator Kerrie Symmonds and colleagues Wilfred Abrahams and Gregory Nicholls, and fellow attorney Stephen Conliffe, today began the process of taking the Government to court over how it turned over the landfill to B’s Recycling, and its subsequent operation.
Addressing a mass political meeting at Prior Park, a stone’s throw away from the landfill, as listeners stood unmoved through several heavy downpours, Symmonds said the action was on behalf of the people who are adversely affected by preparation for the installation of an auto-mobile metal shredder, as well as grave concerns about the negative environmental impact once it begins operations.
This evening Symmonds told Barbados TODAY they expected to file the action for judicial review not later than Friday, asking the court to quash the decision of the Cabinet. He noted that precedent for such action had already been set by the Barbados High Court when it ruled in the case brought by C.O. Williams Construction against then Minister of Transport and Works Dr. Don Blackman and the Attorney General over the award of the contract to construct the Ronald Mapp Highway to Rayside Construction.
Symmonds also cited cases in Trinidad and Tobago and Grenada.
The Government senator told the crowd that residents of Bagatelle, Hoyte’s Village and Prior Park who live within a mile and half of the metal dump were adversely affected since the unauthorised changed of use of the facility.
“From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. residents of these districts have to endure the noise of excavators and the inconvenience of black dust invading their homes. People of the affected areas can no longer enjoy peace in their homes,” he charged.
Symmonds complained that with the change of use of the facility, which for more than 50 years had been efficiently managed by the Sanitation Service Authority simply to bury discarded vehicles and household appliances, the residents of the affected areas should have been invited to a town hall meeting to inform them of any threats to their quality of life or their health.
According to the opposition senator, when residents sought an explanation for the increased noise and black dust they were told bluntly to the dump was now private property and they had to leave.
Symmonds told the crowd that when parliamentary representative for the area, George Hutson, visited the affected districts he promised to have the area wet on mornings and evenings, as though the complaint was about dust from the road.
However, Symmonds advised the crowd to go on the Internet and familiarise themselves with the threats that would be presented to their health from the shredding of the metalic waste that has been dumped at Bagatelle over the past 40 to 50 years.
Symmonds, an attorney-at-law pointed out that metal shredding has caused great concern worldwide.
Arguing that the waste at Bagatelle was toxic, Symmonds said: “Shredding is a problem in Europe, the USA and England. Barbados has no legislation to control shredding of toxic hazadous waste. The Bagatelle dump is made up of dangerous metalic waste. This madness is planned to be visited on these districts in St. James.
“When one considers that the dump is located up-wind one can imagine the danger it presents to people living along the coastline.”
He argued further that with a change of use, the owners of the shredding facility should have sought the permission of the Chief Town Planner and have an Environmental Impact Assessment done on the facility. He questioned how Cabinet had come to the decision to have the shredding facility opened when technical advise appeared to be non-existent.
Symmonds made it clear that the Cabinet of Barbados was duty bound to protect citizens, in all areas, and questioned how it was in the best interest of the country for Government to exchange the 19.2 acres of land comprising the Bagatelle dump for nine acres at River Bay in St. Lucy. (NC)