After their plight was highlighted by Barbados TODAY on Monday, the Ministry of Health has stepped in and ordered an immediate end to the illegal dumping at Robinson Close, St Stephen’s Hill, St Michael which the residents had complained was unbearable.
The move was immediately welcomed by the residents, even though they wanted to know what would be done about the unbearable stench and flies that are still very evident around their homes.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George, in an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, said the Ministry of Health, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) and the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) would work together to effect “a swift resolution” to the problem.
He also issued a strong warning that anyone caught dumping illegally at the site of the old Roger’s Quarry would be prosecuted.
“They [illegal dumpers] are in contravention of the Ministry of Health regulation and they have been instructed that no further activity should take place at that site. The Ministry of Health, we have instructed them, based on our law, not to dump any further.
“We will be making periodic checks to make sure that those instructions have been carried out. If those instructions are not carried out to the best of our knowledge, they can be prosecuted based on our Act,” he said.
As for the bigger problem of illegal dumping across the island, Dr George said it was one that the Ministry of Health was working closely with other agencies to address.
He said he was especially concerned about the health risks associated with the unsightly practice, adding that it could also affect the water supply and cause an increase in mosquito breeding and vermin.
While acknowledging that some sites attracted more dumping than others, the health official called for greater prosecution
However, he said he did not believe that the installation of cameras at the dumping sites was the solution to illegal dumping.
“I think the Barbadian population needs to get back [to doing] the right thing. This is something that is a part of the society getting out of control where we just don’t pay attention to simple decencies. Putting expensive cameras were people dump I don’t think is the solution. We have to appeal to people’s sense of pride and civic responsibility,” the acting Chief Medical Officer said.
Barbados TODAY understands that the man at the centre of the dumping in the St Michael community, Troy Williams, operator of Williams Tool and Equipment, was given a warning by health officials and has since stopped dumping molasses there.
On Monday evening Williams told Barbados TODAY his firm was engaged in the business of mixing the molasses waste with other materials for agricultural purposes.
And today, he briefly commented to us again saying, “It stopped”, when asked if he was still dumping at the site.
Up to 3 p.m. today, residents said they had not seen any trucks disposing of waste as had become the norm in recent weeks.
However, a skeptical Janice Ward told Barbados TODAY that this was not the first time that the company was told to cease and desist, noting that in the past it had stopped so for a few days before getting back into the nasty habit.
Therefore, while she welcomed news that the authorities had stepped in, she wanted to know what would be done with the sludge that was already present at the dumpsite.
“We don’t see any activity going there today at all. I haven’t heard anything and I was here all day,” she told Barbados TODAY.
“They said they would be doing periodic checks from the time they started this dumping down in here. So that could be only talk. And what about what is down in there, is it to stay, does he have to clean it up and get it from down in here? What is supposed to happen to it?” she asked.
“[They] might stop dumping for the time being, but what about next week and the week after? And that mess is to stay down in there. We want that mess gone. The flies still around and as long as that is there the flies will be there and the stench will be there,” she insisted.
Ward dismissed suggestions that some of the residents were trying to put the company out of business, saying “that is not our aim”.
“It is better to see Troy and more young people come and work than go out on the block and get into negative activities. But it went from bad to worse and it kept going and going. We all support Troy, we don’t want him to stop working . . . but you cannot work at the expense of the other people in the area,” she said.
Meanwhile head of the Waste Haulers Association Charles Read said there was not much the association could do since it was “a very informal group at this point”.
While stating that he was not aware of the situation at Robinson Close, he told Barbados TODAY he encouraged everybody to “dump legally and within the confines of the law.
“But I would have to take it up with Troy to find out what is going on there,” said Read.
As for other dumping sites across the island, Read pleaded for the “indiscriminate” disposal of garbage to stop, saying it was rampant in some areas.
“It is a huge problem,” he said, “It almost speaks to a cultural change in the island”.