The offensive dump at Lower Estate, St George must be closed in six months time otherwise its owner Anderson Fat Child Cherry could be hauled before the court.
This was the strong position taken by residents during last night’s heated town hall meeting at the Salters Church of God, St George at which they pleaded with the controversial waste hauler for the second time in as many months to grant them immediate relief from the “toxic” fumes emanating from the quarry.
Debbie-Ann Williams, who is a resident of Lower Estate and a mother of two young asthmatic children, complained that the toxic fumes had been filling her home, which she said, was not sealed in the roof.
“So you can imagine having to turn off the fan with two children that are asthmatic and can’t sleep cause I have to be watching, especially my one-year-old to make sure that she is breathing properly,” Williams said, fighting back the tears, while cuddling the infant in her arms.
Equally emotional was Ian Proverbs of Airy Hill who said he had so far spent “hundreds of dollars” in medication for both himself and his daughter.
“I stand here now as . . . a person who has suffered respiratory problems as a result of the stinking, nasty, rotten smoke that emanates from the landfill. Sorry, the garbage dump. I have spent hundreds of dollars on myself and hundreds of dollars on my daughter because of this,” the angry father said, who later warned that residents were prepared to seek legal redress if necessary.
Averil Farrel Craigg also said she could not wait for the stench to go away.
“On Sunday I had to leave home to get to the garage to take my daughter to catch a bus. To get from the garage door into the car, I thought somebody was choking me.
“When I got my daughter in Hothersal Turning, the same pungent unpleasant smell is all in Hothersal Turning, I could not open the car windows, nor could I turn on the AC,” the mother complained.
However, Cherry, who is chief executive officer of Project Recycle, initially appeared to be quite reticent even with the possibility of legal action looming over his head.
It was only after former president of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners Dr Carlos Chase, who is a resident of the area, demanded to know from the waste hauler what actions he intended to take to resolve the environmental problems and insisted on timelines, that some assurances were given.
Cherry announced that based on the advice of his consultants, the affected residents of Lower Estate, Hothersal Turning, Airy Hill, Salters and surrounding districts would only have to endure the fumes for another two weeks.
Speaking in low tones as he issued his response, Cherry, who is the chief executive officer of Jose y Jose Liquid and Solid Waste Management Inc., also informed the meeting that the landfill would be closed permanently at the end of six months.
He also promised that all of the existing green waste and construction waste would be removed from the quarry.
At the start of the meeting, which lasted close to two hours and was chaired by Opposition Member of Parliament for St George North Gline Clarke, the waste hauler showed a promotional video of what takes place at his landfill.
However, that only served to infuriate the group of about 60 residents, some of whom accused the businessman of insulting their intelligence and treating them like they were stupid.
However, in introducing the video, Cherry sought to explain that he could not address the bothersome smoke emanating from the quarry within the timeframe agreed at the previous town hall meeting since he was hamstrung by bad weather.
“On Tuesday after we had the meeting . . . on the Wednesday [and] on the Thursday, we had a lot, a lot of rain. We couldn’t do any work at all for a few days well . . . say about a week, because there was a lot of water.
“Also in that period of time, there was some smoke that was coming up some weeks ago . . . [but] there is no smoke [now],” he assured the residents.
A 12-member monitoring committee was established last night to keep an eye on developments at the dumpsite and to ensure that Cherry keeps his latest commitments.
The monitoring committee includes former General Manager of the Barbados Water Authority Dr John Mwansa, Dr Chase and other residents from the various affected communities. Former Attorney General and Opposition Member of Parliament for St Joseph Dale Marshall will also sit on the committee along with Clarke, who is the political representative for the area.