I have taken note of a statement issued by Dr.
Horace Chang, Opposition Spokesman on Housing, Water, Environment
and Climate Change. Dr Chang’s statement is misleading, mischievous,
unfounded and has no basis in truth. Immediately after the
Government became aware of the incident, the Government put into
gear, its emergency response over a matter that is the subject of
intensive investigations by its regulatory agencies, led by ODPEM,
and for which technical updates have been constantly communicated to
the media and the public.
On Thursday June 28 at approximately 11:00 a.m.
the government regulatory agencies and the police began receiving
calls reporting a pollution incident and intense odour nuisance in
the vicinity of the Toll Plaza. It was also reported that ten
workers from the Toll Plaza were taken in for medical attention. In
that regard Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse who is an important member of
the response team has reported her initial findings in the media.
Since the matter was suspected to involve noxious gases and posed
potential health risks, the government agencies agreed that the
management and coordination of all interventions should be managed
by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).
The Government takes its responsibility for
public health and safety seriously and has been monitoring the
operations of the investigations by the agencies with deep concern.
Although The Most Hon. Prime Minister, Mrs Portia Simpson-Miller and
I have been briefed by the Director General of ODPEM on the
activities, no definitive source, or the type of noxious gases
causing the discomfort and distress to the population in the
affected areas has yet been determined, therefore no conclusion
could be arrived at. ODPEM has been mandated by the Government to
issue constant updates to the media in keeping with its role as
national coordinator for disaster management. Indeed, ODPEM has
issued many such updates and the other relevant agencies also
continue to do so.
The fact is that the arms of the government
have been tirelessly investigating this unfortunate occurrence.
The Government Immediately responded to the
incident at the Toll Plaza through the efforts of the designated
First Responders: the Fire Services and the JDF Coast Guard and the
The response teams continue to monitor the
Kingston Harbour, Fort Augusta, the Port Henderson Beach and the
Portmore Toll Plaza along with Petrojam, by boat, and also
checked the air quality for hydrocarbons. None has been
The National Environment & Planning Agency
completed investigation of some facilities with underground
pipeline conduits, as well as underground and above ground
storage tanks. The Agency is continuing to investigate other
major handlers and holders of petroleum products to determine
pollution incidents and/or leakages of petroleum products into
the environment. No breach has been found up to the time of this
The teams have visited and scoured the port
facilities and surrounding areas on the seaward side to identify
any possible pollution incident.
Samples of soil and water have been taken
for laboratory analyses.
My Ministry has engaged the support of the
Member of Parliament for South St. Catherine, to support the
reconnaissance activities of the teams while the search
continues for possible sources of the contamination by actively
visiting and inspecting sites.
Contrary to Dr. Chang’s allegation about
“secrecy and or ignorance”, the Government has been open and
transparent in dealing with the public on this very serious matter.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts up to now, neither the
source nor the pollutant has been identified. Nonetheless the
government will continue to keep the Country up to date. I am
therefore imploring the public to listen out for further advisories.
Hon. Robert Pickersgill M.P.
Contact: (876) 997-9742