Fri | Dec 9, 2016

No CHEC! - Chinese engineering company's quarrying operation hit with another stop order

Published:Sunday | March 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson
Sonia Hammond leads her common-law husband Wilfred 'Admiral' Bailey on the hunt for water for domestic purposes.
The quarry in Treadways, St Catherine where CHEC has been ordered to cease operations.
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Problems continue to surround China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC) over its mining operation in Treadways, St Catherine.

The authorities recently issued a second stop order on the company's quarry operations as investigations continue into the mine.

Geoffrey Marshall, senior hydrogeologist at the Water Resources Authority (WRA) told The Sunday Gleaner that the latest stop order was issued after it discovered that CHEC was extracting groundwater at the location without the relevant water licences.

The WRA stop order follows a similar move by the Mines and Geology Division of the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, which charged that CHEC was not licensed to quarry at the location.

"While CHEC's quarrying activities has intercepted the local groundwater table, it is not yet known if this action has directly impacted the flow of nearby streams," said Marshall,

"CHEC, however, has illegally connected to the existing Mountain Pass Spring Water Community Supply system, and this illegal connection may be the cause of any observed decline in the community water supply," continued Marshall.

He said a team from the WRA visited the quarry on March 4, and found two springs created by CHEC's quarrying activities.

They also found that material quarried from the premises was blocking various gullies in the region, and that CHEC was still carrying out its quarrying operations at the site despite the previous stop order.

 

find practical solutions

 

CHEC is reportedly quarrying hillsides in the area for material to be used on the construction of the nearby Mount Rosser leg of Highway 2000.

Responding to the latest stop order, Jennifer Armond, communications manager at CHEC, told our news team that CHEC continues to work with the authorities in an effort to find practical solutions that harmoniously balance the need for development and the short term impact on local communities.

"Any inconvenience to residents is regretted as we try, in good faith, to complete the project in a timely and efficient manner to provide a platform for additional opportunities

surrounding communities and

the country as a whole," said Armond.

But that is little comfort

to residents of communities around the mine who have complained that their water supply has been greatly diminished since CHEC started quarrying there late last year.

"Ever since CHEC came here two of our main springs have been cut off," said Horace Dawkins, president of the Mountain Pass Benevolent Society.

He charged that CHEC, by virtue of tunnelling into the water table, has jeopardised the residents' water supply.

"There are two springs up there and CHEC has dug a hole and has been using one spring to get water to damp the place and for its own purposes.," said Dawkins.

The Mountain Pass Benevolent Society is in the process of seeking to renew a licence to extract water from wells in the area, but the WRA has confessed that its attempt may be stalled due to CHEC's impact in the area.

"That may be so but what are we going to do? We have to do what we are doing," said Dawkins. "Its four communities in the area that are suffering from water shortage right now: Bailey Town, Mountain Pass, Clarkes Town, and Palm are suffering from water shortage," charged Dawkins.