Thu | Oct 18, 2018

Jamaica getting rid of old pesticides

Published:Monday | October 17, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Stuart MacInnes speaks about the verification process for chemicals going to the plant in Britain.
Michael Ramsay (second right), registrar of the Pesticides Control Authority, makes a point to Graham Dunkley (third right), general manager of Ag-Chem, as Oneil Samuels (right), plant manager, walks by and the forklift operator awaits instructions for load some of the hazardous material into a 40-ft container. They were part of the team overseeing Friday’s loading of the container at the Ag-Chem plant in Hill Run, St Catherine for shipment to Britain.

More than six years after the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN) committed to funding a project to get rid of all obsolete pesticides in the Caribbean, Jamaica is moving to ship out two 40-ft containers of hazardous and toxic chemicals.

The containers will be sent to Britain, where they will be destroyed.

Stuart MacInnes, senior project manager in charge of hazardous waste at the Veolia incinerator plant in the United Kingdom, has spent more than three weeks here supervising the packaging and labelling of the containers.

"We don't accept anything at our plant unless we can verify what the stuff is," he told The Gleaner. "I'm just here to basically supervise the works and to ensure that everything is done correctly according to the UN code. They are all labelled as per the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG), and basically, we work under these conditions," the expert explained.

The IMDG is accepted as an international guideline for the safe transshipment of potentially dangerous goods or hazardous material by water.

MacInnes has been working out of the Ag-Chem Plant Limited facility at Hill Run, St Catherine, coordinating the local effort, with assistance from the Ministry of Health and the Pesticides Control Authority (PCA), whose registrar, Michael Ramsey, pointed out the strategic importance of the site.




"It was important to get a site that already has hazardous material and also for which NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency), as the environmental agency, would be happy to give a permit. It's in an area that is not near where many people live and, therefore, would not create a health hazard, possibly. Also, we try to have partnerships with different companies in the pesticides industry so that not only the pesticides industry, but the national interest, is paramount."

The response to the initiative was very good, the PCA registrar disclosed. The first 40-foot container with obsolete pesticides is slated to leave the island by month end, with the other due to be shipped out in November.

"We have got old pesticides from around the country from as far away as St Elizabeth and Portland, and it has all been brought here in one place, approved by NEPA, and we have a chance now to get it out of the country. There is no hazardous waste disposal facility in Jamaica, and, therefore, it has become a problem. In fact, we even have stock here that was seized by Customs and some that was abandoned by the importer when they couldn't get the permit to get it through the Customs barrier. This is the opportunity now to get rid of all of these things when there was no other way of doing so."