More than a week after Chief Medical Officer Dr Kenneth George threatened to use “the full force of the Nuisance Act” to prosecute illegal dumpers, there were clear signs today that the transgressions have not abated.
Speaking to reporters on January 8, the CMO described the indiscriminate disposal of contaminated molasses in St Stephen’s, Black Rock, St Michael; Harlington, St Philip and Mount Wilton, St Thomas as totally unacceptable and revealed that those who had already been identified had been given ten days to stop the illegal practice.
However, during a visit to St Stephen’s this morning, prospective Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate for the constituency Rommell Marshall was greeted by a large open pool of stagnant molasses, old appliances and a number of angry residents fed up with the transgressors who appeared to have ignored the order.
Long-standing members of the community, Janice Ward, Clement Broome and Leroy Robinson said they were worried that the waste deposited at the site could endanger the lives of adventurous children at play in the district.
They described the continued horrors that they faced daily, complaining that they were forced to live with the unbearable stench emanating from the garbage and to keep their windows and doors shut in order to keep out the flies and mosquitoes.
Ward also complained that individuals who scavenged the dump in search of discarded household appliances and scraps of metal were storing their find on the borders of her property, exposing her to mosquitoes and rats.
She added that individuals even stored some of the molasses on her property.
Marshall, a former Minister of Transport and Works, said he had received a number of calls from residents and he was worried that if the practice did not cease it would affect students attending nearby education institutions and the water supply.
“I have been inundated with calls from people in this area about the illegal dumping. We have the St Stephen’s Primary School, the Ellerslie Secondary School and the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies downwind from the dump. Mosquitoes and the stench can reach these educational institutions. In addition, a reservoir is in close proximity to the dump. Water passing through the rock formation can contaminate the island’s water supply.
“This illegal dumping of waste affects the environment by contaminating the very air we breathe, as well as the soil, surface water and ground water. Dumped appliances can release hazardous chemicals into the air and can do damage to the ozone layer,” the former Member of Parliament for St Michael West Central contended.
The BLP hopeful promised he would seek a meeting with Minister of Health John Boyce and personnel from the Environmental Protection Department in an attempt to identify a solution to the problem.
At last week’s media briefing Dr George said environmental health officers would be out in the field to ensure there was compliance with the cease and desist orders, adding that the Town and Country Planning Department was also working with the Ministry of Health to address the illegal dumping issue.
Boyce also indicated at the time that Government was taking strong measures to tackle illegal dumping, but he did not elaborate.