After nearly a year of discomfort as a result of fumes emanating from a nearby dump, residents of Lower Estate, St George are giving the man behind the dump one more chance to clear up the mess.
At a meeting held last Sunday with the Anderson Fat Child Cherry-led Project Recycle Limited, the monitoring committee set up by the St George North-Western Community Group to lead the efforts to resolve the problem, agreed to give the company two more weeks to remedy the situation.
Since May last year, the garbage dump has either been on fire due to combustion from the accumulated waste disposed of in the quarry, or has been emitting smoke which residents said had caused various respiratory issues.
Roger Craigg, the spokesman for the group, said the company acknowledged during Sunday’s meeting it had not eliminated the foul ordour emanating from the dump site because of its inability to stop the combustion.
“Project Recycle Ltd then committed to the monitoring committee, and by extension the wider community, that they will be engaging in additional works with their primary goal being the elimination of the air pollution issues ‘within a few weeks,’” Craigg said.
The spokesman said additional work would include the application of a layer of inert material to cover the areas where the fire was flaring up, the use of sea water to permanently stop the combustion, and the removal of tyres, metals and white goods such as electronic appliances.
He told Barbados TODAY the work has started and at least one member of the committee had been monitoring the efforts every day since Monday and reporting to a small group within the community organization.
“We will monitor daily for the next two weeks, and at the end of the two weeks, we will meet and decide our next step,” he said, adding that while the group was not ruling out legal action against Cherry, its first option was getting the Ministry of Health to intervene and use its power to do whatever was required to permanently resolve this environmental problem.
“It remains the view of the monitoring committee and its advisors that the only permanent solution to the environmental crisis caused by the Project Recycle landfill will be to remove all materials from the quarry and return it to its former state prior to the commencement of the landfill operation and for Project Recycle in the meantime to ensure that no ‘green waste of organic materials’ are brought into the quarry,” Craigg stated.
He also identified thousands of dollars in losses to businesses and a decline in sales due to sick leave by employees as part of the adverse impact caused by the sickening fumes.
He also noted that some businesses in the area have had to transfer staff, and several home owners had to seek refuge by taking staycations, while others were contemplating leaving their houses, which are not yet mortgage-free, in order to rent elsewhere.
“In the past six months, Project Recycle has not demonstrated an ability to handle the crisis that it created, and it is the view of the committee that they should seek, at their cost, external assistance and pay for an independent entity to test the air quality that the community is being exposed to,” Craigg said.
The Project Recycle chief executive officer could not be reached for comment. (EJ)