Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Algix has produced no evidence

Published:Wednesday | April 27, 2016 | 4:00 AM
An aerial view of Appleton Estate.

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Last Friday, The Gleaner published a letter to the editor from the chief executive officer of Algix LLC. This letter has inaccuracies that may mislead the Jamaican public and may influence them to believe Algix has only the environment and Jamaicans' best interests at heart.

Algix claims that an alleged loss of fish on its property, some 10 kilometres downstream from the Appleton Estate Sugar Factory, was a result of the accidental discharge of effluent from our operations. Algix has not produced any evidence to substantiate its claim.

In the letter to the editor, Mike Van Drunen claims a National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) study presented to the court confirmed Algix's allegations. This is misleading. In fact, a NEPA representative testified under oath that they had found no evidence of any effect on wildlife or fish along the Black River to corroborate Algix's claims. Those are the facts, plain and simple.

The introduction of the 2013 regulations governing trade effluent affected all industries in Jamaica, not just the sugar industry. Businesses, therefore, were placed on compliance plans by NEPA to allow them time to make the necessary investments to modify their operations to meet the new standards. J. Wray & Nephew Limited was at all times working with NEPA under such a plan.

Because of this unsubstantiated lawsuit, our sugar factory operations at Appleton Estate will remain suspended for the 2016 harvest. J. Wray & Nephew Ltd is acutely mindful of the hardship and distress this is causing to our workers, the cane farmers and their families, as well as the wider community around Appleton.

While we respond to Algix's misleading claims, our true focus now is on all those negatively impacted by the suspension of operations. J. Wray & Nephew Limited will continue to retain the services of all the employees at the sugar factory, even while it is not in operation. In addition, we are paying a business interruption allowance to the contract workers who are not employed directly by J. Wray & Nephew Limited, but who work on the estate.

We have also met with the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers Association, the North St Elizabeth Cane Farmers Association, and Jamaica Cane Products Sales Limited, to offer financial assistance to the cane farmers directly affected. We have presented the farmers with a proposal, which they have accepted.

On behalf of all Appleton Estate stakeholders, we will vigorously defend ourselves against this harmful lawsuit in court, when it is heard in September, arming ourselves with actual facts.

CLEMENT LAWRENCE

Chairman, J. Wray &

Nephew Ltd