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MP questions whether pollution in Rio Cobre causing rare illnesses in surrounding communities

Natalie Neita, Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central and Suzanne Stanley, CEO of JET
 
Member of Parliament for St. Catherine North Central, Natalie Neita, is questioning whether some rare illnesses being seen in one community along the Rio Cobre in St. Catherine might have been caused by pollution of the river.
 
On Friday morning, she revealed she would be filing a lawsuit against Windalco following this week's fish kill in the Rio Cobre.
 
Speaking Friday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, Ms Neita said there are questions about how the release of effluent from Windalco into the river has been affecting human health. 
 
"No enforcement is in place, how much goes in? How often does it go in? What are the consequences of same? What does this caustic soda do to the body? There are such rare cancers and rare kidney problems in that community of Kent Village and those living along the banks of the Rio Cobre, that I've always wondered what is wrong," she reasoned.  
 
Ms Neita noted that the problem of effluent being released from Windalco's effluent pond is a recurring one which the authorities appear unable to stop.
 
She is looking to get the parliament to strengthen laws to prevent such incidents. 
 
JET 
 
In the meantime, Suzanne Stanley, Chief Executive Officer of the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), has taken issue with the National Environment and Planning Agency's agreement with Windalco for controlled release of effluent into the Rio Cobre.
 
She believes the waste of a company must be confined to perimeter of their property, instead of being allowed to enter the environment and affect the ecosystems in the rivers as well as the surrounding communities. 
 
NEPA on Thursday revealed that it denied Windalco permission to release effluent into the river earlier this month.
 
It said it has not approved a release in about seven years.
 
Windalco 
 
In the meantime, WINDALCO, said it is implementing all required measures to secure the waterways from any environmental impact.
 
It said these include creating a berm to stop the flow of effluent leaving the facility.
 
It said it is also flushing streams with fresh water at several different locations and making efforts to curtail the flow from the holding pond.
 
 


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