by Emmanuel Joseph
A retired High Court judge was among about a dozen residents initiating court action this afternoon to close B’s Recycling at Cane Garden, St. Thomas.
The action follows a massive blaze at the site earlier this year, which residents charged compounded the health and environmental problems they had been suffering through for years.
Led by MP for St. Thomas, Cynthia Forde and their attorney-at-law, Queen’s Counsel, Sir Richard Cheltenham, just over a dozen “frustrated” residents marched to the Supreme Court Registry this afternoon, and filed individual claims against the continued presence of the recyling plant, which Sir Richard said, had a second fire on May 12.
Sir Richard said today’s court action was a last resort, after Forde had been continuously writing to “all” the relevent Government agencies for them to act with respect to the “unregulated” presence of the company.
“The appeals to all the relevant agencies have been in vain, and the court for these people now is a last resort. Many of them have had serious health problems; irritation of eyes, nose, throat, skin, bronchial problems,” revealed the prominent legal counsel.
“They are filing their documents; they have to each sign before an officer of the registry. So this is the launch of proceedings, which start with the filing of the appropriate claims.
“It is an action in nuisance, and an action in negligence, and an action for compensation too, for a breach of statutory obligations on the part of the ministers named.
“But in addition to that, they are seeking an injunction restraining the operations from continuing in its present unregulated and non-permitted state.”
Responding to reports that Bs Cycling now had an application for planning permission before the Town and Country Planning Development Office, the senior lawyer said:
“[That has] nothing to do with the injunction, except that in some respects … they should have got planning permission before they started. This thing had been going on for 10 years or more, and only resulting from the outcry they now seek, after the event…, after they’ve been operating without planning permission and to the distress, inconvenience and to the disturbance of the enjoyment of the premises and to the devaluation, too, of many of the … properties around, they are only now seeking to apply to Town and Country Planning.”
He noted that Bs, which started operations in 2000 as a bottle recycling depot, expanded in 2006 to collect scrap metal, old cars, some with residues of gasolene, tyres, appliances, stoves and gas bottles. He pointed out that the district in which the plant is situated was zoned for four-acre agriculture lots with one residence on each.
“He now has 12 acres or three lots, carrying on a factory… He has a dump there now with all of this unhoused material that is highly flammable. The big fire … you are all aware of, [but] they had the subsequent fire on Mother’s Day I think it was… There had a second fire the 12th of May,” recalled the Queen’s Counsel.
One of the residents who filed a claim today was retired Appeals Court Justice, John Connell. Connell complained that a heart attach he experienced before the first major fire had been made worse as a result of the “very thick” smoke.
“Six weeks before the fire, I had a heart attack and the fire made it worse. For 36 hours, I had to shut up our house. It was horrible,” lamented the former judge.
“At one point, I thought I was going to die,” declared Connell who live about 500 yards away from the site of the blaze. His wife also filed a claim in the High Court today. [email protected]