Overflow of effluent from Windalco pond contaminates waterways in St. Catherine

NEPA's Richard Nelson and NWC's Charles Buchanan
Several waterways in St. Catherine, including the Rio Cobre, have been impacted by an overflow of trade effluent from Windalco's Holding Pond at the Ewarton Works plant in the parish.
A media release from Windalco said the overflow was the result of  continuous rainfall on Sunday.
The affected waterways are in the vicinity of Byndloss, Vanity Fair and the Charlemont Foot Bridge.
Residents are advised not to use water from the affected areas until further notice. 
The company said there is increased routine monitoring and the overflow of effluent has now ceased.
Windalco said its monitoring data show there has been gradual improvement in the affected areas.
Spanish Town Treatment Plant 
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) has confirmed that the shutdown of the National Water Commission's Spanish Town Treatment Plant is connected to the contamination from the Windalco facility.
The NWC Tuesday night reported that it was forced to shut down the plant because of a high alkaline content and reddish-brown water at its intake source.
Richard Nelson, senior manager in the environmental management division of NEPA, explained that the effluent from the Windalco pond caused an elevated pH level in the Rio Cobre, moving it from a normal pH of 8 to about pH 10.5 - which is considered too alkaline for domestic use. 
The National Water Commission said it is unable to say when it will resume operations at its Spanish Town Treatment Plant.
Corporate Communications Manager, Charles Buchanan, said the company is awaiting improvement in the raw water quality.
He confirmed that the problems at the plant started this week. 

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