August 3, 2018
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) wishes to remind the public that under the Wild Life Protection Act (WLPA), the release of any trade effluent, industrial waste, or any noxious or polluting matter into any stream or river containing fish constitutes a criminal offence. In addition, under the Natural Resources Conservation Authority-NRCA (Wastewater and Sludge) Regulation, it is illegal to discharge wastewater without a licence.
Recently, a tributary of the Rio Cobre River in the vicinity of Byndloss, St Catherine was polluted by caustic material from West Indies Alumina Company's (WINDALCO) plant on Saturday, July 28, 2018. The incident occurred as a result of an overflow of contaminated storm water from the facility.
Richard Nelson, Senior Manager, Environmental Management, NEPA, indicated that the Agency's investigation has revealed that the tributary was indeed polluted by caustic material that originated from WINDALCO. Mr Nelson explained that, WINDALCO failed to report the incident to the Agency that occurred as a result of an overflow of contaminated storm water from the facility, following rainfall on Saturday, July 28, 2018.
He said, "The containment ponds, known as the "east" and "west' pools, which were designed to collect and return storm water to the plant during periods of rainfall, failed to contain the contaminated water. This resulted in an overflow from the containment pools, which entered two natural gullies that lead to the tributary of the Rio Cobre in Byndloss.
Nelson added, "WINDALCO has since admitted that caustic material overflowed into the tributary of the Rio Cobre in Byndloss. Water quality test conducted by WINDALCO on Sunday July 29, 2018, confirm that caustic material entered into the water ways. To address the issue, the company implemented measures to assist in removal of the contaminant and return the water quality to normality."
Mr Nelson explained that the results of water quality tests conducted on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 have revealed that the water quality has returned to acceptable levels and is safe for consumption and household usage.
NEPA will continue to take strong enforcement actions against any company or organisation in breach of NRCA regulations, as it continues to protect Jamaica's land, wood, air and water.
The public is encouraged to continue to assist in protecting Jamaica's land, wood, air and water by reporting any suspected incident of pollution to NEPA by calling (876) 754-7540, toll-free at 1-888-991-5005 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.